RSAI coordinated the submission of a grant request to Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Education by the Cherokee Community School District on behalf of around 30 RSAI member districts, under the Teacher and Paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship (TPRA) funding to grow the education workforce through Registered Apprenticeship programs and expand the teacher workforce in rural Iowa.
The grant submission requested funding for high-school-to-paraeducator apprentices (Teacher Aids) and paraeducator-to-teacher apprentices (K12 Teachers), prioritizing underrepresented populations to increase the diversity of Iowa's education workforce. Both pathways include coursework with partner institutions and on-the-job training in a district classroom. For the high-school students, participants partner with a handful of Iowa's community colleges, with whom districts may already have existing relationships. For the paraeducators, districts partner with Western Governors University Teachers College and other Iowa Universities. Cherokee Community School District serves as the fiduciary agent for the grant, and RSAI assists Cherokee and districts with compiling and housing data and reporting requirements under the grant, as well as bringing together participating districts for collaboration and interactions to support one another. RSAI works to assist districts in developing their registered apprenticeship programs, if they do not already have one, and with recruiting regional and community college partners up front to implement and support the registered apprenticeship portion of the program. RSAI also will work to provide districts with information on the availability of other options to support additional paraeducators into a teaching profession should local and state demands exceed our expectations. As a reminder, districts can participate in more than one consortium, should they have the opportunity.
RSAI will assist the consortium to maximize the efficiency of financial supports and scholarships available to participants to ensure as many participants from RSAI member districts can be brought on board. The grant was submitted on behalf of the approximately 30 districts that submitted Participation Commitment Letters. Should the funding received by the consortium be sufficient and should the grant allows it, additional RSAI member districts may be able to participate. We have established a waitlist for districts interested in participating. Email RSAI to be added to the waitlist.
Interested RSAI members returned Participation Commitment Agreement to RSAI, which were due on March 24, 2022, to be included in the grant submission.
Consortiums were required to have at least 10 participants. Most rural districts did not have 10 willing participants at the time of grant submission, so developing a consortium made sense for many RSAI members. WGU assisted RSAI members with preparing and submitting the original grant. Districts in the consortium must have approved MOUs with WGU and/or other higher education partners in the consortium standards. Districts will coordinate with Cherokee CSD as the fiduciary district for the grant (RSAI will work with Cherokee CSD as necessary to provide support in those responsibilities).
Western Governor's University (WGU) was incredibly supportive with the preparation of the original grant submission and is a higher education partner on the paraeducator-to-teacher (K12 Teacher) apprentice track. WGU is already a provider of virtual education for adults toward teacher degrees for BA or Masters, has content in shortage areas such as special education, math, science and elementary education (and others). They have a competency-based system, which means that those with more classroom experience and expertise can move along pretty quickly to attain their degree, and students can begin their program at the first of any month in their program. Other higher education partners are noted below.
RSAI received letters of support from many Iowa community colleges to partner with districts in this consortium on the high-school-to-paraeducator (Teacher Aid) apprentice track, as most districts already have long-established relationships with their local college on other programs.
Calamus Wheatland CSD
Cherokee CSD - fiscal agent
Coon Rapids Bayard CSD
Eagle Grove CSD
East Marshall CSD
East Mills CSD
Mt. Ayr CSD
Nodaway Valley CSD
River Valley CSD
South Page CSD
Woodbury Central CSD
RSAI held an initial webinar in March 2022 to discuss the grant with RSAI member districts, and introduce those interested in the Paraeducator-to-Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program to our new partners at Western Governors University (WGU). The Webinar was on March 2, 2022. View Accompanying PPT and Webinar Recording if you missed it.
RSAI has a webinar planned with Iowa Workforce Development just for the Cherokee CSD Consortium to hear details on reports required for submission each quarter, the format for submission, as well as backup documentation needed. This is also an opportunity to ask questions related to the TPRA grant program. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom link. View the Webinar Recording and the Accompanying PPT.
RSAI has a webinar planned with Department of Labor representatives just for the Cherokee CSD Consortium to receive training on using the RAPIDS system and next steps in the grant process. This is also an opportunity to ask questions related to the TPRA grant program. Contact email@example.com for the Zoom link. View the Webinar Recording and the Accompanying PPTwith tasks detailed on slides 4- 8.
Iowa Workforce Development is hosting a "Mentoring & TPRA Success" Webinar to learn about the importance of mentors in your program, followed by Q&A. Kyle Whitaker, Acting State Director, U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Apprenticeship in Iowa, will talk about the responsibilities of mentors. Stacey Cole, Storm Lake Superintendent, will share how her school district is adapting those responsibilities to fit local needs. Maryam Rod Szabo, Iowa Department of Education (IDoE) Administrative Consultant, Educator Quality, will speak to IDoE's role regarding TPRA and mentoring. Their brief overviews will be followed by Q&A. Webinar Recording, FAQ document and other Resources linked on IWD Website.
Iowa Workforce Development is hosting another webinar on "The Lifeblood of your Talent Pipeline: Recruitment". You have your Registered Apprenticeship programs up and running but now what? This webinar will feature experts from the field to talk about the tools that you have access to, as well as best practices. IWD will have guests from a dynamic Community College and School District Collaboration that has seen success in recruiting new apprentices for their community. View the Webinar Recording
Iowa Workforce Development will host a TPRA Webinar on June 6th at 10am for Superintendents and Business Office Staff. This webinar will focus on the extension of the TPRA Grant through 2025. The webinar will be recorded and the link posted on their Earn and Learn Website and here for those unable to attend. Webinar Recording
Iowa Workforce Development is hosting a Webinar on September 20th at 3pm (rescheduled from Aug 30th) to introduce their audit firm of RSM, discuss changes to the reimbursement process, provide an overview of the grant extension, and Registered Apprenticeship 101. We encourage all participating districts to attend. For instructions on joining the webinar via Microsoft Teams, contact Jen Albers. The Webinar will be recorded and circulated for those unable to attend live.
The standards defined for the Cherokee CSD Registered Apprenticeship (RA) TPRA Program are defined in these standards. These should also be shared with all participating paras. Cherokee CSD RA Standards
Reports are due to Iowa Workforce Development from the consortium on a quarterly basis. Reports are due from partner districts to Cherokee CSD/RSAI 3 weeks before each IWD deadline. See the schedule below. Even if you have no expenses to submit for reimbursement, a report should still be submitted to the consortium.
Due to IWD
Contact RSAI with any questions or to learn more.
Participating districts in the TPRA grant program should review the work process schedules linked below for the two grant tracks. Meetings will be coordinated soon with participating districts, their Community College and University higher education partner(s), and Iowa Workforce Development to review the specifics. These work process schedules will be incorporated into the MOU between participating districts and their higher education partner(s) and then submitted to IWD and the Iowa Department of Education.
Most districts under the Cherokee Consortium participating in the Para to Teacher Track are planning to work with WGU. When students enroll, they need to identify themselves as participants under the "Iowa TPRA Grant Program." Districts are encouraged to share the student contact information with the WGU Enrollment Team. See resources that can be shared with potential WGU students for the Para to Teacher track.