11 communities receive college attainment grant

Tressa Schultz

Iowa College Aid announces almost $550,000 in awards

Eleven Iowa communities will receive grants to increase college attainment, Iowa College Aid announced today. The Local College Access Networks, or LCANs, will receive a total of $545,375 for 2021-22. Two are new networks, while the rest are returning grantees.

The two new networks are Brother to Brother in Des Moines and Perry LCAN. Brother to Brother will focus on college attainment for young Black men in Des Moines and Central Iowa. Perry LCAN will focus on college attainment and workforce readiness in the Perry community, especially for lower-income and minority students. 

The goal of an LCAN is to increase college access, enrollment, and completion using a framework known as “Collective Impact,” which means that each LCAN assesses the assets and needs of its community and works to fill the gaps in partnership with local colleges, school districts, area education agencies, business groups, elected officials, employers, and community and religious organizations. Iowa College Aid provides funds for an LCAN coordinator, travel, training, and other costs. Iowa College Aid staff provide technical assistance, consultation, and professional development. The LCAN grant series is a four-year model.

These LCANs received awards this cycle:

  • Year I
    • Brother to Brother (Des Moines): $49,650
    • Perry LCAN: $49,940
  • Year II
    • Quad Cities LCAN: $50,000 
  • Year III
    • Black Hawk County CAN: $50,000
    • Carroll Area CAN: $48,396
    • Latinos CAN (statewide): $59,825
    • OPT-in CAN for System Involved Youth (statewide): $49,096
    • Story County CAN: $50,915
  • Year IV
    • Aligned Impact Muscatine (AIM): $50,00
    • Dubuque CAN: $50,668
    • Mason City CAN: $36,885

“We are grateful for the funding and support from Iowa College Aid,” said Dr. Lee Chhen Stewart, Story County CAN coordinator. “We have been able to provide career speakers for sixth-graders, train 30 community members to help with financial aid applications, collaborate with high school students to create a website of college resources, and train 26 adult learners—15 of whom now have more secure, higher-paying jobs.”

Dr. Mark Wiederspan, executive director of Iowa College Aid, said the mission of LCANs has never been more important. “During the pandemic, we’ve seen dips in college enrollment and college financial aid applications,” he said. “These networks are working to recoup those losses. Many of them—including the two newest—are setting specific goals around completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. High school students who file this application are much more likely to follow through on their college plans.”

LCANs support the Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of Iowans have some education or training beyond high school by 2025. Since 2015, Iowa College Aid has awarded a total of $2,760,844 to 19 networks.

Find more information at IowaCollegeAid.gov/LCANs.