Iowa Grants to Help Community Colleges Expand CDL Training
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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a new funding pipeline to help truckers with $5 million commercial driver license infrastructure grants to get more drivers on the road by helping pay for community college training centers and new equipment.
“Here in Iowa, we need to do everything we can to help get more skilled, qualified drivers on the road — and that work has to include easing the pathway to a CDL,” Reynolds said recently. “With this unique grant program, community colleges will have the opportunity to upgrade facilities, find more space or purchase newer equipment to keep their program competitive while attracting the Iowans who can help meet the demand for drivers.”
Funding is available to state community colleges that are defined as two-year state-supported colleges that offer associate’s degrees.
Priority will be given to schools that can train and certify truck drivers continuously and in higher volumes, noted the Iowa Workforce Development office.
New funding is available to support CDL training programs at Community Colleges! The new CDL Infrastructure Grant program has $5 Million to support critical infrastructure for new and existing CDL training programs in #Iowa!
Learn more here: https://t.co/4sswxAmD4tpic.twitter.com/csiIntYv9G — Iowa Workforce (@iowaworkforce) August 10, 2023
IWD will also take into consideration the location of community colleges to better ensure geographic diversity when awarding grants.
Reynolds has reserved Iowa proceeds from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to award $5 million. Maximum grants can range up to $1 million with a 50% match. Funds received from this program must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and completely spent by June 30, 2025. Any unused funds must be returned to IWD no later than Dec. 15, 2025.
The new state program is to assist community college programs with building, purchasing or remodeling CDL training infrastructure. Expenditures covered by the state may include construction and remodeling done by third-party vendors and buying CDL training space. Grants would also cover purchasing such training equipment as trucks, simulators and monitoring devices.
IWD will evaluate grantee performance measures that have been outlined as demonstrating an overall change in the number of new and/or upgraded certified truck drivers, increasing class size or number of classes offered, and having completion rate metrics for classes and licensing. The state will also look at a school’s length of time per CDL training program and number of new and upgraded CDL drivers by endorsement type.
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Reynolds’ announcement is the latest move she has taken to increase the number of CDL holders on Iowa roads. The leading agricultural state relies heavily on commercial trucks to take farm products to markets.
Earlier this year, she allocated $2.94 million in grants to support 46 employer programs to prepare drivers for meeting CDL requirements.
“We had a great reception with our initial CDL grant program, which is now helping Iowa employers advance their own pipeline of new drivers in the state,” said Beth Townsend, IWD executive director. “Today, we’re expanding that same focus to the programs that make this valuable training possible all across Iowa.”
To qualify for the CDL infrastructure grants, the community college programs must offer competency-based training courses and/or a training course allowing a student to complete training and take the licensing exam within a 30-day window.
Application points were to be given to community college programs that either offer their facilities as third-party testing locations, have competency-based training available or charge lower tuition rates.
In addition, a community college must agree to freeze CDL tuition for five years after the infrastructure grant project is completed. Training must also meet minimum federal standards required for entry-level driver training for taking CDL skills/knowledge tests.
Trucks hauled 68% of Iowa’s 670 million tons of freight valued at $383.2 billion in 2017, according to last year’s state freight plan. Cereal grains rank as the highest value commodity.
The state estimates it will need over 10,000 commercial drivers annually between now and 2030.
The deadline for grant applications at iowagrants.gov is Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. The state also has a special website called Iowa Support for CDL Training Programs with more information at futurereadyiowa.gov/CDL.
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