Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission
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NICC Leading Implementation of $2.7M US Department of Labor Grant to UERPC

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) will be leading the implementation of a $2.7 million U.S. Department of Labor competitive grant awarded to Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC),  the grant’s fiscal agent and lead workforce partner. The U.S. Department of Labor grant was one of 24 awarded nationwide and the only one in Iowa.

The three-year grant supports a new Youth CareerConnect program through the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. NICC and UERPC will partner with 23 participating high schools in the Northeast Iowa Pathways to Employment project (IA-PIPE). IA-PIPE will expand the college’s efforts to develop new and expand existing concurrent enrollments at regional high schools in high demand industries.

The grant and IA-PIPE will focus its high school student concurrent enrollment plan on high-demand federal H-1B designated career pathways, including finance and insurance, healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

“This grant enables NICC and our partners to greatly expand educational programs and career planning services for high school students in northeast Iowa,” according to Dr. Liang Chee Wee, NICC president. “Especially rewarding about this successful grant is the coalition of partners who share a common vision of student engagement and achievement.”

In addition to the schools and UERPC, NICC is partnering with East Central Intergovernmental Association, Dubuque Area Labor-Management Council, Keystone Area Education Agency, and a growing list of employers including Berry Plastics, Caterpillar, US Bank, Dubuque Data Services, Eastern Iowa Machine Company, Henderson Products, IBM, Mercy Medical Center, and Norplex-Micarta.

In the Youth CareerConnect program, participating high school juniors will select a two-year pathway, take concurrent college credit courses through NICC and participate in an array of career awareness and work-based learning opportunities, all while on course to receive their high school diplomas. Throughout the program, participants will receive career counseling and have access to wrap-around services based on their individual needs. The education and experiential opportunities that IA-PIPE offers will enable participants to graduate from high school and enter the workforce with industry credentials or begin their college education having already earned college credits. 

For more information, contact: Rachelle Howe, UERPC director, at (563) 382-6171 or rhowe@uerpc.org; or Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., NICC vice president of Business and Community Solutions, at (800) 728-2256, ext. 221 or mihm-heroldw@nicc.edu.