The “Fueling the Future” pilot project will target adults in low-income families of elementary-aged children receiving weekend “backpack” food subsidies in Muscatine and engage them in a six-week intensive “earn while you learn” upskill training. This multi-stepped pilot will provide stabilization of emergent family issues; education for the custodial adults in high demand jobs; long-term advancement of skilled workers in the community; and a stronger next-generation Iowa workforce.
This innovative, cross-platform program will create a multi-generational shift equipping children to achieve academically, coupled with parents’ modelling educational and economic success resulting in a broadened, trained workforce for area employers.
The program’s ultimate goal is to reduce barriers faced by low income families to enable custodial parents to achieve non-credit postsecondary credentials and high-demand jobs through interconnected stabilization, barrier reduction, education, and workforce efforts.
Often, we treat emergent issues, in this case hungry children, without disrupting the root cause.
Most secondary education for adults is six months or longer in duration. They say “time is money”; but for those in poverty, time is a luxury of money. People living day to day will often not choose to engage in lengthy coursework because they are unable to maintain housing with varying/disrupting income streams, they have inconsistent transportation options, and lack of flexible, affordable quality daycare and work schedules. This uncertainty creates reluctance to participate in educational opportunities without additional supports and prevents participation in joining the ranks of skilled workforce.
Coupling household stabilization, with compressed educational attainment, and initial employment will lead to a higher likelihood of sustained success.
The Public Health School Navigators are currently responsible for aligning food resources for children when food insecurity is identified by the teacher. Elementary aged children enrolled in the “backpack” program make-up 4% of Muscatine Community School District students.
Public Health School Navigators’ role would be expanded to schedule meetings with a portion of the 200+ families with children currently receiving the weekend backpack food subsidies. Upon consent, the Navigator will interview and complete federally regulated, evidence-based assessment tools to identify families interested in participating in this pilot program.
Those participating families would receive healthy food delivered to their home the last week of the month when food supply diminishes for four months during stabilization, training, and initial employment. This food program would be administered by Muscatine Center for Social Action.
The newly established Economic Navigator position would then be tasked with working with the identified households to reduce emergent issues, align transportation and quality daycare, partner with the City of Muscatine and Muscatine Center for Social Action to ensure housing stability, and work with the local college, Iowa Works, and Proteus to align scholarships so parent(s) can graduate the six-week upskilling.
The six-week certificate programs offered through Muscatine Community College will include Welding, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) and Certified Nursing Certificates. Pedagogy will be geared towards adult learners. The curriculum will be focused, intentional, and accelerated to reduce the number of potential life barriers that can get in the way of student completion.
Students will be training for employment with specific businesses, thereby increasing their motivation to complete their training. Adults lacking high school completion will be served by the college’s HISET program concurrently with enrolling in the short-term certificates.
Area hiring employers will participate in paid part-time internships during the six-week sessions with intentions to hire qualified individuals upon completion.
The Public Health Economic Navigators then will serve as a resource to both the “graduate” and employer for six months following course completion. Having a trusted advocate for both parties to reach out to if short term barriers are identified will further ensure the long- term success of employment. Interviewed employers have noted that if employees would have just let them know what barriers prevented them from being able to attend work, they could have aligned assistance, but employees are reluctant to do so. The trusted Economic Navigator will serve to bridge this gap, serving as a network if unforeseen barriers are identified while the family further stabilizes financially over the initial six months.
Along this continuum, supplemental self-sufficiency services and renter / home ownership educational programs will be offered by the City of Muscatine.
Aligned Impact Muscatine will provide data collection and dissemination services for the grant.
The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine will serve as collaborative network convener and share the role of fiscal agent with United Way of Muscatine.
Collaborative Grant Partners include:
Trinity Muscatine Public Health
Muscatine Community College
City of Muscatine
Muscatine Center for Social Action
Aligned Impact Muscatine
United Way of Muscatine
Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine
Matching Partners include:
Toyota of Muscatine
Trinity Muscatine Foundation
Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine
United Way of Muscatine
Some Collaborative Partner Quotes:
Muscatine Community College “This grant provides a great opportunity for Muscatine to demonstrate what we’ve shown so well before – people within the organizations collaborating for the benefit of the community. With this grant, MCC will have the opportunity to serve 24 families and give them access to education and a chance for a higher paying, more stable position. The two programs can be seen as on-ramps to furthering their education and can lead to further degrees and certificates. We are also looking forward to the kids in the selected families being inspired by their parent(s) going to college which may help them set a new goal for themselves, as well.” Dr. Naomi DeWinter, President
Trinity Muscatine Public Health “This pilot project seeks to give children and their families a sustainable future. Through our 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment it was identified that food insecurity and affordable housing are growing needs for many individuals and families in the Muscatine County area. Overall, 22.8% of county residents are determined to be “food insecure,” having run out of food in the past year and/or been worried about running out of food. Among 7.1% of adults in our county reported that there was a time in the past two years when they lived on the street, in a car, or in a temporary shelter
What this project does is take a deeper dive into the root cause as to why housing and food are a need for many residents. It seeks plausible solutions that will fuel a future of sustainable living for families. We know that having a living wage is a key factor into meeting this need. What this model does is give people employable skills through certification programming that will bring them into a living wage bracket in order to provide for their families.
At Public Health we will deploy an Economic Resource Navigator that will work in collaboration with the adult/s in the family, many community partners and employers to guide the family unit toward successful outcomes. Our resource navigators and care coordination teams at Public Health do a phenomenal job at collecting and connecting the dots for the people and communities we are called to serve. They build bridges so each unique individual can achieve the successes they strive to reach. It is truly an honor to be partnered with these outstanding organizations to deliver a vital resource and service to our local children and families. With the support of this community our “Fueling the Future” pilot project will be a success and beginning to the great outcomes that together we will achieve.” Christy Roby-Williams, Executive Director
Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine “We know that children can’t fill their heads when their bellies are empty; in Muscatine alone, 200+ elementary children take backpacks filled with food home each weekend to stem their hunger. And, we know many of these children may face hunger and a need for food backpacks throughout their entire childhood.
Working with a core group of dedicated partners we developed a disruptive model, focusing on a continuum of interconnected steps to reduce barriers and advance their families’ financial base through education and strengthened employment for their parents.
The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine is thrilled to be able to partner with other community leaders and committed organizations on this transformative pilot project!” Charla Schafer, Executive Director
Aligned Impact Muscatine “According to the United Way of Iowa’s 2018 ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) Report, 37% of people living in Muscatine County are struggling to make ends meet. We know that the more education and training a person has, the more likely they are to have a job that provides financial stability for them and their family. Helping low-income families overcome barriers to increasing their education and training is a complex issue that no one organization can do alone. That is why Aligned Impact Muscatine County is so excited to be one of the partners for the Fueling the Future pilot project. Not only will this Future Ready Iowa grant-funded program impact the parents who are receiving the education, but the children of these families will also see the benefits of education for their own futures.” Kim Warren, Executive Director
Muscatine Center for Social Action “MCSA could not be more thrilled to help serve these families with a multi-generational approach! It is extremely relieving to see this team not only fill an immediate need, but also address the underlying issues prompting the need. With the skills being taught and the services being provided to the ENTIRE family, we can start addressing the root cause of the problem and serve families in a truly holistic fashion. Due to collaborative efforts like this, Muscatine can lead the way in helping vulnerable people reach self-sufficiency and feel prepared for their future.” Scott Dahlke, Executive Director
United Way of Muscatine “United Way of Muscatine’s focus is on increasing the number of self-sufficient households in Muscatine. With 37% of area households unable to meet their basic needs each month, we know that it will take organizations working together in new ways to make a difference. That’s why we’re so excited to participate in these collaborative efforts to help families in Muscatine.” Shane Orr, Executive Director