Iowa Rural Teacher & Paraeducator Pipeline Grant Program

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 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 and paraeducator-to-teacher apprentices, 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 will partner with Iowa's community colleges, with whom districts already have existing relationships. For the paraeducators, districts will partner with Western Governors University Teachers College. Cherokee Community School District will serve as the fiduciary agent for the grant, and RSAI will assist districts with compiling and housing data and reporting requirements under the grant, as well as bring together participating districts for collaboration and interactions to support one another. RSAI will work to assist districts in developing a registered apprenticeship program, if they do not already have one, and with recruiting regional and community college partners to implement and support the registered apprenticeship portion of the program. RSAI will also work to provide districts with 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 you have the opportunity.

RSAI will assist the collaboration 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 30 districts that submitted Participation Commitment Letters. Should the collaboration receive funding and 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. 

Participant Commitment Agreements

Interested RSAI members returned Participation Commitment Agreement to RSAI due on March 24, 2022, to be included in the grant submission.


Most rural districts did not have 10 willing participants, so developing a consortium makes sense for many RSAI members. WGU assisted RSAI members with preparing and submitting the grant. If funded, districts will need to approve MOUs with WGU and/or community colleges related to the consortium. Districts will need to coordinate with the district that serves as the point of contact and fiduciary for the grant (RSAI will work with that district as necessary to provide support in those responsibilities).

RSAI is working with Western Governor's University (WGU) on the paraeducator-to-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.

RSAI received letters of support for Iowa community colleges to partner with districts on the high-school-to-paraeducator apprentice track, as most districts already have long-established relationships with their local college on other programs.

Districts included in RSAI's Grant Awarded:

Algona CSD
Audubon CSD
Bedford CSD
Bellevue CSD
Calamus Wheatland CSD
Central CSD
Cherokee CSD - fiscal agent
Coon Rapids Bayard CSD
Eagle Grove CSD
East Marshall CSD
East Mills CSD
Edgewood-Colesburg CSD
Fairfield CSD
Glenwood CSD
Greene CSD
Griswold CSD
Harlan CSD
Kingsley-Pierson CSD
Knoxville CSD
Marshalltown CSD
Mt. Ayr CSD
Nodaway Valley CSD
Northeast CSD
Osage CSD
Riceville CSD
River Valley CSD
Sidney CSD
South Page CSD
Westwood CSD

See award notice -

Community College and University Providers approved for participants of the Cherokee Consortium

Student-to-Para Track

  • Clarke University
  • Eastern Iowa Community College
  • Indian Hills Community College
  • Iowa Central Community College
  • Iowa Valley Community College
  • Iowa Western Community College
  • Kirkwood Community College
  • Southwestern Community College

Para-to-Teacher Track

  • Buena Vista University
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Western Governor's University
  • William Penn University

IWD Kickoff Webinar - June 30, 2022

Iowa Workforce Development will be hosting an official Welcome Webinar to kick off the grant on Thursday, June 30, 2022 at 10am. Contact RSAI or IWD for more details.

RSAI Initial Inquiry Webinar - March 2, 2022

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 Update/Financial Webinar - November 30, 2022, at 10am

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 for the Zoom link. View the Webinar Recording and the Accompanying PPT.

RSAI RAPIDS Training Webinar - January 9, 2023, at 1pm

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 for the Zoom link. View the Webinar Recording and the Accompanying PPTwith tasks detailed on slides 4- 8.

TPRA Mentoring Webinar - February 2, 2023 at 10:30am

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. Register Here


Contact RSAI with any questions or to learn more.

Other Links & Resources

General Standards for Completion in Registered Apprenticeship Tracks

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.

Student Enrollment Resources for Western Governor's University (WGU)

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.

Other Resources and Links