DES MOINES — Iowa's Governor celebrated the accomplishments of a Pella High School program and has launched a new grant program with hopes to spur similar programs across the state.

During Gov. Kim Reynolds' Condition of the State address on Tuesday she announced the new program, with hopes to expand Pella's first-of-its-kind program to other schools. A grant application process for Iowa high schools began on Jan. 12 and closes March 1. Award amounts will vary by project. Funding is from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan Act.

The grant falls under the new Iowa Health Centers Registered Apprenticeship Program. The program's goal is to provide high school students with the opportunity to explore health care careers while getting paid and helping address the health care workforce shortage. Enough funding for a minimum of five projects has been secured.

"This innovative approach, and the public-private partnerships that make it possible, are what Iowa’s education and healthcare systems need," Reynolds said. "That’s why we’re launching a new healthcare registered apprenticeship program that will provide funding to at least five communities to scale what Pella has done."

In announcing the program she spoke highly of the Patient Care Registered Apprenticeship Program that's included in Pella's Career Academy. The Pella program used virtual reality training and real-world work experience with a local nursing facility and hospital. Students can become a certified nursing assistant before they leave high school. CNAs can work in a variety of medical careers, and are also closer to becoming a registered nurse or earning a bachelor's degree.

Grant funds received can be utilized to purchase equipment, training materials, uniforms and other costs required to implement the program. Awardees will receive supplemental assistance from the State of Iowa to acquire simulation software and hardware to further enhance apprentices’ educational experience and readiness for the field.

More information on the grant can be found at www.earnandlearniowa.gov/funding.

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