Prairie Meadows awards $350,000 to support UNI partnership with DMACC

Prairie Meadows awards $350,000 to support UNI partnership with DMACC

DES MOINES, IOWA – A legacy grant from Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino will continue to expand access to affordable, high-quality baccalaureate degrees for Iowans through the growing partnership between the University of Northern Iowa and Des Moines Area Community College known as UNI@DMACC.

UNI@DMACC provides a flexible pathway for busy adult learners who may not have easy access to a four-year degree due to their location, job or life commitments, but need further education and training to succeed in Iowa’s high-demand workforce. Students complete their first two years at DMACC, and then take online classes through UNI.

“This generous grant from Prairie Meadows will make a lasting impact on the lives of many Iowa families,” said UNI President Mark Nook. “Earning a four-year degree can truly change the trajectory of a family. Many of the students participating in UNI’s unique partnership with DMACC are first-generation students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a bachelor’s degree. We appreciate the support of Prairie Meadows in helping ensure that students in the Des Moines area are able to further their educational, professional and personal goals.”

UNI@DMACC includes 11 online bachelor’s degree completion programs in education, business, technology management, criminal justice, sports administration, human services and liberal studies. A new hybrid accounting program will begin in August with courses offered both online and in-person at the DMACC Urban Campus in Des Moines. Approximately 100 students are enrolled in UNI@DMACC programs. 

“UNI and DMACC have created a very unique partnership that could be a successful model for other Iowa communities. We greatly appreciate this Prairie Meadows investment as it will help us sustain and grow the UNI@DMACC partnership,” said Rob Denson, DMACC president and CEO.

“As a nonprofit organization, Prairie Meadows fulfills its purpose by giving back to organizations that support arts and culture, education, economic development and human services. We are excited to see the impact UNI@DMACC will have on our central Iowa community,” said Julie Stewart, Prairie Meadows vice president of community relations.

The $350,000 award from Prairie Meadows will strengthen the new Student Life and STEM Center, the DMACC Urban campus facility that houses UNI@DMACC, and support future endeavors of the partnership. The gift adds to a previous Prairie Meadows legacy grant for the building project made to the DMACC Foundation. In recognition of its generous support, the Altoona-based racetrack and casino will be honored with a premier named space in the center.

Launched in 2020, UNI@DMACC has continued to grow its offerings for central Iowans, adding not only academic programs but also community outreach and training in financial literacy, violence prevention and services to family-owned businesses. UNI@DMACC is the anchor campus of the UNI at Iowa Community Colleges (UNI@IACC) initiative announced last summer which expanded the partnership model to three additional community colleges throughout the state. Through the Future Ready Scholarship program and donor-established scholarships, many of these students earn a UNI degree at a community college tuition rate. 

Additionally, a newly-announced expansion of UNI’s principalship program will help meet the need for administrators in Des Moines Public Schools, the largest public school district in the state of Iowa. The innovative program, known as the Purple Pathway for School Administrators, is a two-year UNI College of Education masters degree and advanced studies certificate delivered primarily online and designed specifically for a cohort of Des Moines Public Schools educators to earn licensure to become school administrators. The curriculum includes in-person instruction at the UNI@DMACC classroom site in the Student Life & STEM Center.