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$16 million in funding now available through Future Ready Iowa programs

More than $16 million in new funding became available through three new bills signed by Gov. Reynolds in the month of May.

The three new Future Ready Iowa funding opportunities will help Iowans get the education and training required for jobs and help employers get the skilled workers they need.

“Future Ready Iowa is a powerful tool for growing family incomes, meeting employers’ needs and strengthening our communities,” said Gov. Reynolds in the press release. “The Future Ready Iowa Act will ensure Iowans have the skills they need to succeed in a world driven by technological disruption – both now and in the future.”

The goal of Future Ready Iowa is 70 percent of Iowa workers having education or training beyond high school by 2025.

The Iowa Senate approved the “Future Ready Iowa Act” on Monday, March 18 in a unanimous vote of 47-0, sending the legislation to Gov. Reynolds’ desk for signature. Reynolds then signed the act into law on April 2 at the Future Ready Iowa Summit in Des Moines.

Here is more information on the three funding bills passed into law last month:

The Last Dollar Scholarship Program

The $13 million Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship makes it possible for students to have their tuition paid for in a number of career technology programs.

The Last-Dollar Scholarship covers tuition for students in programs leading to high-demand jobs in Iowa. It pays the cost of tuition above and beyond that covered by other state and federal programs.

Future Ready Iowa Grant Program

The $1 million Future Ready Iowa Grant program provides stipends to Iowans who left college after earning at least half the credits toward a four-year degree in a high-demand field, and who return to complete a degree.

This program will provide a minimum of $1,000 for tuition support.

Future Ready Employer Innovation Fund

The $1.2 million Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund is a grant opportunity for employers and other partners to collaborate and carry out innovative, creative initiatives to address local workforce issues.

A state matching grant is available to qualifying applicants.

$16 million in funding now available through Future Ready Iowa programs | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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