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New round of grants to Northeast Iowa Community College help fulfill mission and service to the local community

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Liang Chee Wee portrait_newsNICC DISTRICT—Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) continues to secure additional resources that allow the College to serve the community and fulfill its mission while navigating the challenges of the pandemic.

The College has received several major federal and state of Iowa grants, more than $4.2 million, with much of the funding made possible by strong partnerships with local private and public sector organizations.

“The grants awarded to the College and our partners in the 5,000-square-mile district allow us to enhance the services we provide for our students, local industries, high schools and communities. Even during the challenges created in a fluid environment by the pandemic, NICC continues to demonstrate resilience, innovation, collaboration and stewardship. The College is able to achieve these results because of our strong partnerships in northeast Iowa,” said Liang Chee Wee, Ph.D., NICC president.

NICC received a federal Strengthening Institutions Title III grant to support its facilitation of competency-based education, a student tracking and communication system, and data and reporting. The $1.69M in funding will create institutional processes, policies and procedures to facilitate the integration of competency-based programming. Competency-based programming identifies individual students’ skills and customizes learning to better prepare graduates for high-demand, skilled occupations.

The funding will also assist NICC in its efforts to advise students throughout the academic and job placement process, improve access and communication with students, support College staff implementing and assessing these efforts, and invest in hardware and software upgrades.

Other grants awarded to the College and its partners include:

  • $142,361, Iowa Department of Education: GEER Component 1 and 3 funding to help with technology for students and for internal systems to enhance online programming.

  • $1,375,525, US Department of Education: Trio SSS, assisting first-generation, low-income and/or students with disabilities to complete degree at NICC and transfer to four-year colleges.

  • $192,572, Iowa Department of Education: Adult literacy funding for basic education and High School Equivalency Diploma programming. 

  • $296,667, Iowa Department of Education intermediary grants to support the College’s participation in the Iowa Intermediary Network. Network partners connect high school students to career exploration opportunities in Iowa by offering work-based learning opportunities with local employers. Areas funded include work-based learning programming for high school students, providing state guidance and outreach services to special populations.

  • $250,000, Iowa Workforce Department, in partnership with several businesses, to support a Registered Truck Driving Apprenticeship program and to make enhancements to the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and Industrial Maintenance programs.


The College and its partners have also received three Innovation Grants from the state including one with Greater Dubuque Development Corporation (GDDC) for short-term training via the Opportunity Dubuque program, $100,000; with JB Holland for heavy equipment training, $100,000; and with Four Mounds Foundation to provide construction training for adults with barriers to employment, $97,400.

“As our economy weathers the employment impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Opportunity Dubuque training is a lifeline for individuals seeking new employment or a career change,” explained Kristin Dietzel, GDDC vice president of workforce solutions. “Tuition assistance, child care assistance and individualized coaching means there is a fit for everyone wanting to train for a new career. We are pleased to partner on this initiative.”

Bill Holland, president of JB Holland in Decorah, highlighted the need for construction equipment training.

“There is a tremendous shortage of construction equipment operators, not only in northeast Iowa but across the country. Our partnership with NICC has helped to obtain grant funding that aids in training, recruitment and retention of employees. Because of our relationship with NICC we are providing recruitment and training services that not only benefit JB Holland but available to all contractors that utilize heavy construction equipment throughout the region,” Holland said.

The Four Mounds Foundation praised the new Employer Innovation Fund and the benefits it will provide for community members.

“The HEART program has demonstrated for the past two decades that through restoring place, we can restore people. The Employer Innovation Fund will catalyze the empowerment of many Iowans disconnected from the world of work through hands-on training and critical support from our team. We are grateful for the innovative, solution focused partnership with Northeast Iowa Community College,” said Rebecca Bodish, Four Mounds Foundation program manager.