Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, announced last week that Clarke County Hospital (CCH) was among 22 recipients to receive grants from the Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund. Awarded $25,000 out of a pool of $568,000, the sum is set up as a matching grant to help the hospital provide training and educational opportunities for its employees and others throughout the community looking to fill high-demand positions.
This journey began in October of 2019, when CCH CEO Brian Evans talked with Governor Reynolds at a campaign event at Osceola’s Honey Hill Event Center. During the conversation, the Governor asked if the hospital faced challenges with attracting and retaining qualified employees. Evans explained that the hospital had found success with “growing our own” through hospital-sponsored education and scholarship funds. It was then that Governor Reynolds suggested that the hospital look into opportunities through Iowa Workforce Development funding to bolster its education and advancement efforts.
In mid-November, a grant proposal was written and submitted to the “Future Ready Iowa” funding program, requesting a matching grant to the hospital’s own continuing education fund. On December 2nd, the full amount of the request, $25,000, was awarded, doubling the amount of money the hospital scheduled to invest in education and certification of its employees over the next 12 months.
“Historically, the hospital has invested in employee education, not only for the improvement of filling essential positions there, but also to further the careers of our individual employees,” said Tom Bahls, Communication and Foundation Manager for Clarke County Hospital. “This grant will allow us to work more with our staff on career development and build a deeper pool of qualified employees to serve the community.”
The purpose of the Employer Innovation Fund is to expand opportunities for more Iowans to earn for-credit and noncredit credentials leading to high-demand jobs. It’s also designed to encourage Iowa employers, community leaders, and others to collaborate to support regional workforce talent development. For the hospital, specifically, the grant will directly impact staff looking to advance in jobs like Nursing, including RNs and LPNs; Diagnostic Imaging technicians, Physical Therapy staff certifications and more.
“We want the staff to know the opportunities available to them through this award,” said Brian Evans, CEO of Clarke County Hospital. “A grant of this nature creates a ripple effect of advanced certification and earning potential throughout the entire community.”
One of the goals of Future Ready Iowa is to have 70% of Iowans in the workforce with education or training beyond high school by the year 2025. It also strives to strengthen the talent pipeline well into the future. Currently, the attainment level has stalled out around 58%, but this fund is aimed at changing that through competitive grants supporting regional initiatives and accelerating credential attainment. Iowa Workforce Development is seeking collaborative applications that propose new, cutting-edge ideas as well as proven strategies.
Businesses benefiting from this round of Future Ready Iowa grants ranged from manufacturing companies to trucking firms and more. Clarke County Hospital was one of only three hospitals to receive the award.
A third and final round of awards will be announced later this year for companies that would like to submit their grant proposals through Iowa Workforce Development – https://www.futurereadyiowa.gov/grants-scholarships-funds. The application deadline for these awards is Tuesday, December 17th.
Clarke County Hospital is grateful for Governor Reynolds’ continued support of the Future Ready Iowa Program, helping employees advance their careers while helping the hospital fill high-demand positions in Clarke County.