On Tuesday, December 3rd, United Way of Muscatine (UWM) received a second Future Ready Iowa grant to put towards the Fueling the Future Program. A collaboration between UWM, the City of Muscatine, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, Muscatine Community College (MCC), the Muscatine Center for Social Action, and UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Public Health (UPTM), Fueling the Future works to help families in poverty become self-sufficient through higher education. With this additional $26,715, Fueling the Future will serve twice as many families as organizers planned for in its initial run.
According to Shane Orr, Executive Director of UWM, Fueling the Future will take a multifaceted approach to assisting families in poverty. Program directors will select families with Muscatine Community School District students participating in the Bags of Blessings food program. Parents will take a six-week program at Muscatine Community College to earn credentials as a certified nursing assistant, computer numerical controller (someone who operates a computerized machine), or welder. Each certification path will include an internship that can lead to a permanent job. Families will also work with an economic navigator from UPTM during and after their training to overcome barriers to succeeding at work.
With the second grant, Orr feels confident that the trial of Fueling the Future can reach more people. “Because we were awarded more funds than we expected in the second round, we’ll be able to help more families.” Specifically, Orr explained that the program will identify and assist twelve families, twice its original goal.
Orr estimates that Fueling the Future’s first group of participants will start their training at the beginning of 2020. In the meantime, organizers from each organization have developed a selection process and collaborated with MCC to guarantee the certification programs would meet participants’ needs. UPTM has also begun hiring their economic navigators. “We’re excited,” said Orr. “[UWM] is working on increasing the number of self-sufficient households in Muscatine, and this will help a lot.”