Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced the state has awarded more than $4.3 million to 65 organizations that will receive Coronavirus Relief Fund Employer Innovation Fund Grants. The program will assist local employers, nonprofits, community colleges, high schools, private universities and the University of Iowa in providing postsecondary training and education to Iowans who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Future Ready Iowa’s Employer Innovation Fund is centered around a grassroots effort to solve local workforce challenges while helping Iowans find economic opportunity in their community,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The winning projects address barriers for Iowans who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic by providing training opportunities that will build on our economic recovery.”

The programs receiving funding also focus on recruiting individuals from minority and underrepresented communities to help Iowa diversify its workforce, Reynolds said. 

Reynolds allocated $5 million from the federal CARES Act for the Coronavirus Relief Fund Employer Innovation Fund. Organizations statewide were invited to apply during an application period that ended Sept. 16. Unlike the Employer Innovation Fund, the Coronavirus Relief Fund version of the program does not require matching funds from recipient organizations. The grants can be used to cover the cost of training, books and equipment, as well as to provide wrap-around support that address other barriers some Iowans face when trying to obtain skills training.

“Once again, employers, nonprofits and educators have come up with amazing and innovative solutions to help their fellow Iowans by creating training opportunities in high demand occupations,” Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, said in a statement. IWD administers the program. “From IT, health care, advanced manufacturing to first responders, these programs will help expand our skilled workforce, diversify our workplaces and help those most affected by the pandemic.” 

According to a list of frequently asked questions, Iowa Workforce Development plans to announce additional application rounds for the relief fund, if funding is available after the first application round. Submitted applications that are not selected will not be automatically considered during future rounds. 

The Employer Innovation Fund, created as part of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, in 2019 disbursed a total of $1.2 million in grants through three funding rounds. 

The Future Ready Iowa goal is to have 70% of Iowans in the workforce with education and training beyond high school by 2025. About 60% of Iowa’s current workforce meets this education and training criteria. Visit www.FutureReadyIowa.gov for more information.

To view the list of grant recipients, click here.