Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) has received an Iowa Department of Education grant for $96,665 to support the development and implementation of a statewide network that prepare high school students for the workforce.

Iowa's 15 community colleges each received a portion of the $1.45 million in grant funding to develop 15 regional work-based intermediary networks.

With the funding, NICC will connect businesses and the secondary school system by offering relevant, work-based learning activities for students and teachers, particularly related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) occupations, occupations related to critical infrastructure and commercial and residential construction, or the advanced manufacturing, bioscience and information technology industries.

NICC has a strong relationship with 25 secondary schools in the region. Cooperative programs with area high schools, which identify career technical and academic program prerequisite courses, provide a challenging educational experience and ensure a smoother transition to college.

The Department of Education funding will allow NICC to expand and improve access to work-based learning activities for high school students in northeast Iowa, according to college officials.

"This support will help NICC to increase the number of high school students who have an awareness of careers, develop career pathways and connect students with businesses in a structured format to educate students on the STEM fields in advanced manufacturing, bioscience and information technology," Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., vice president of NICC business and community solutions, said.

"Other activities will include two "Workforce Trends in Education and Business" events, at the Peosta campus on March 5 and at the Calmar campus on April 15, that bring business and education professionals together - this is especially important in rural areas of the college's district."

In the next year, NICC plans to hire a work-based learning network program director to coordinate network events and programming in northeast Iowa.

For more information, contact Mihm-Herold at (800) 728-2256, ext. 221, or mihm-heroldw@nicc.edu.