Grant from U.S. Department of Labor will strengthen job training in health-care sector

United Way of Central Iowa was awarded a $2,248,968 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide job training to 380 central Iowans seeking careers in health care. The America’s Promise grant is the largest grant United Way of Central Iowa has received in its 100-year history. The four-year grant will double the capacity of Central Iowa Works (CIW) to serve individuals with barriers to education and employment.United Way’s award was part of $111 million in America’s Promise grants made to 23 regional workforce partnerships connecting more than 21,000 Americans to education and in-demand jobs. 

The Central Iowa America’s Promise Project will directly assist qualified individuals pursuing a career in H-1B occupations in the health-care industry and will target services to unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent adults ages 18 and over, specifically refugees, Veterans, individuals with criminal backgrounds, WIOA, SNAP E&T and TANF-eligible recipients.

United Way and CIW are using this grant to fill a growing need for health-care workers in central Iowa. According to the Iowa Workforce Development Healthcare and Social Services Laborshed report, the average age of central Iowa health-care workers is 50, and 40 percent will be eligible for retirement in the next five to ten years.

Most of the individuals served by the grant will have barriers to education and employment. Barriers may include: lack of high school diploma or equivalency, limited English proficiency, disabilities, criminal history, or lack access to affordable and quality transportation or child care.

"The America’s Promise Project is a significant opportunity to increase skilled job training in our community to meet the growing demands in the health-care sector,” said Elisabeth Buck, Chief Community Impact Officer at United Way of Central Iowa. “Over the next four years, this project will strengthen our local economy as individuals receive the education and assistance they need to qualify for critical jobs.”

"Health-care organizations face a shortage of skilled employees,” said Tray Wade, president and CEO of HCI-VNS Care Services. “The America’s Promise grant received by United Way of Central Iowa and Central Iowa Works will help close that skills gap.”

To learn more about the upcoming America’s Promise training programs, visit or dial 2-1-1 and request to be added to the contact list to receive updates.

About Central Iowa Works
United Way of Central Iowa (UWCI) serves as the backbone for Central Iowa Works (CIW), which is a public-private collaboration among employers, non-profits, and potential employees.  As a workforce intermediary, CIW works with the employer community to identify the necessary skills for high-demand jobs, works collaboratively with training providers to develop and deliver targeted training, and provides work-ready preparation and wrap-around supportive services to low-skilled, low-income individuals. CIW is part of a national network of workforce intermediaries, funded in part by National Fund for Workforce Solutions, United Way of Central Iowa, DMACC, and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.

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About The Author: Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch is a communications contractor for the Thriving Workforce initiative and is the former Strategic Communications Officer at United Way of Central Iowa.