Governor Kim Reynolds visits MCC to learn about “Fueling the Future” program
As THE Community’s College, collaborating with community partners to improve the lives of local families is in our DNA. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds recently got a first-hand look at the way Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, specifically Muscatine Community College, is working with nearly a dozen other Muscatine organizations to help low-income families obtain job training that leads to high-demand jobs.
It’s all part of a new pilot project called “Fueling the Future,” and Reynolds sat down with all of the local organizations involved to learn more about it during a round-table discussion held at MCC’s campus. The pilot targets adults in low-income families of elementary-aged children receiving weekend “backpack” food subsides in Muscatine and engages them in a six-week intensive “learn while you earn” upskill training.
“In addition to the training, the program helps provide housing support, financial literacy education, food assistance, childcare and an Economic Navigator who will act as a resource and advocate for families,” MCC President Naomi DeWinter said. “We’re all coming together as a community and really wrapping our arms around a child and their entire family to provide success and stability.”
For families living in poverty, it’s often hard to make the choice to pursue additional education and training that leads to better opportunities. Inconsistent transportation options, lack of flexible, affordable daycare and work schedules can all create barriers. What this program does is eliminate those barriers, providing a safety net so families can take the time to further their education.
“This holistic approach is incredible,” said Reynolds. “This is something I can take to all schools; it’s an innovative program that can provide a template for other organizations, so thank you for that.”
The six-week certificate programs include Welding, CNC Machining and Certified Nursing Assistant, all of which are high-demand jobs in Iowa. Students will train with specific businesses, working in paid, part-time internships with commitments to hire qualified individuals upon completion. Six months of follow up is also part of the program to help ensure long-term success.
“A skill set we look for are welders,” said Geof Bissell of Raymond Corporation. “That skill set can carry people throughout life. It helps them and it helps companies like us stay viable.”
Former MCC student, Miguel Salcedo, earned a welding certificate in a similar program. The father of five shared how it changed his life during the discussion.
“I was nervous coming here, but it opened a bunch of doors,” Salcedo said. “I got a good job and the welding I learned here helped me advance. At first I was scared, but now I’m a master at it.”
It’s amazing, thank you for giving me the opportunity. We’re okay now, versus before we were not okay.”
“I really appreciate what you’re doing,” Reynolds said to the group. “It really makes a difference.”
The project is a partnership among the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, Trinity Muscatine Public Health, Muscatine Community College, the city of Muscatine, Muscatine Center for Social Action, Aligned Impact Muscatine and a collective of Muscatine employers.