$1 Million Grant Will Help Fund GCSD Innovation Center

Iowa Western Community College and its partner, the Glenwood Community School District, have been awarded a $1 million grant to help fund a proposed innovation center.

The IWCC-GCSD partnership is among four recipients receiving a total of $3.6 million in grants from the Iowa Department of Education.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education announced last week that four groups will receive grants through the state’s Career Academy Incentive Fund “to empower more students with multiple pathways to postsecondary success through partnerships between community colleges, schools, industry and community stakeholders.”

To further grow access to career academy programs in high-demand fields through new or expanded regional centers, IWCC (Glenwood) along with Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (Muscatine) and Iowa Valley Community College District (Grinnell) will each receive a $1 million grants while Iowa Central Community College (Eagle Grove) will receive an award of nearly $618,000.

“The Career Academy Incentive Fund is an innovative, results-based program that provides high school students with opportunities to gain valuable experience and helps build a strong talent pipeline in our local communities,” Reynolds stated in a press release.

“Connecting the classroom to the workplace, the Career Academy Incentive Fund equips students across Iowa with work-based learning in high-wage and public-good careers as they earn industry-recognized credentials and college credit in high school,” said Iowa

Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow. “We commend the awardees for their leadership in realizing our shared priority to empower all students with multiple pathways to postsecondary success, changing lives and strengthening communities.”

IWCC and Glenwood will launch the new regional innovation center next year, offering five southwest Iowa school districts access to four career academies in cybersecurity, mass digital communications, robotics and precision agriculture.

The grant is a big piece of the innovation center puzzle, said Glenwood Superintendent Dr. Devin Embray.

“We’re very excited to get this,” Embray said. “Getting this will allow us to equip this space in the way it was designed so that’s exciting.”

Glenwood is currently planning the construction of a new building north of its high school campus to house the innovation center. Work is expected to begin on that project this summer and is slated to be open for the 2025-2026 school year, according to Embray.

Embray said the grant timing came as somewhat of a surprise.

“We knew there were five school districts applying for about $4.2 million dollars,” he said. “But we just found out we got it.”

Embray said $500,000 of the grant will be used on equipment and furnishings for the innovation labs and the remaining funds will go toward construction of the space.

In April, the Glenwood Board of Education approved a resolution to pursue a revenue bond for $4.25 million for the new building.

The prefabricated building will address the programming and office space the district will need when the Glenwood Resource Center campus closes this summer. The new two-story, 38,0000 square foot building will house the district’s administration offices and THRIVE alternative high school as well as the district’s food service and technology departments in addition to the career academy and innovation center.

“This allows us to spend less of our SAVE money on the building itself and actually equip the innovation lab with the technology and equipment we need for it,” Embray said.

The total cost of the new building is estimated to be $6 million.

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges will be using its grant funds to expand the Muscatine Industrial Technology Center that serves six area school districts. Iowa Valley Community College District will provide additional lab space for the automotive repair technician career academy in Grinnell and support enrollment growth across six area high schools in existing academies. Iowa Central Community College will modernize the North Central Career Center with new health sciences equipment serving four surrounding school districts .

The Opinion-Tribune

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