New UNI grant to provide summer job opportunities to at-risk high school students

New UNI grant to provide summer job opportunities to at-risk high school students

A new grant awarded to the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Urban Education will provide 15 summer internship opportunities to local high school students from historically marginalized populations.

The $87,000 grant from Iowa Workforce Development will provide summer employment for youths who are at risk of not graduating, from low-income households or from communities under-represented in the Iowa workforce. Companies participating in the program include UnityPoint Health, MasterBrand Cabinets, Experience Waterloo, Viking Pump and VGM & Associates.

The new program will add to the thousands of students UNI-CUE serves each year while carrying out its commitment to lifelong learning and helping at-risk students continue their education goals.

“Our goal through this program is to provide a hands-on experience for high school youth from all backgrounds to explore and prepare for high-demand careers, gain work experience and develop personal attributes necessary to succeed in the workplace,” said Megan Holbach, assistant director of UNI-CUE. “By participating in these various internships, professionals will be preparing these students for post-secondary education and/or careers by developing the soft skills such as communication, punctuality and time management.”

The internships, which will span from June 7 through Aug. 20, will help students to prepare for careers in high-demand fields. These same students can gain the work experience that helps them put their education into practice, develop their leadership skills and give them a competitive edge as they pursue a more permanent career. 

“By completing these internships, students will be more attractive candidates for colleges and scholarships,” said Robert Smith, UNI-CUE director. “Having real world experience shows a college or scholarship panel that a student has a clear set of goals that they are working towards. Demonstrating commitment and follow through demonstrates a high level of maturity, responsibility and willingness to do what it takes to be successful.” 

Funding from the program comes from the Future Ready Iowa Summer Youth Internship Pilot Program. Future Ready Iowa connects Iowans to the education and training required for good paying jobs and careers to improve people's lives. The program’s goal is to have 70% of Iowans with education and training beyond high school by 2025. 

UNI-CUE has been carrying out its mission to provide a positive environment for lifetime learning, where individuals may pursue and continue their educational goals and prepare for careers since 1969. The center, located in the heart of urban Waterloo, represents UNI’s strong commitment to cultural diversity and inclusion.