August 1, 2019

I started my career here in Iowa covering education, in Ames, Carroll and other reaches of west-central Iowa.

I’ve covered school boards and universities and the growing influence of community colleges — the latter of which have done an enormous amount of good for rural Iowa. I’m now the Carroll representative on the Des Moines Area Community College Foundation — a position that allows me to advocate not just for Carroll, but for Jefferson and the surrounding area.

The single best opportunity for young people I’ve seen emerge in those 25 years of covering education and being involved in advocacy for it is the availability of scholarships for up to $7,500 for DMACC’s computer languages program, a regimen that can lead students to Pillar in Jefferson for high-tech, high-paying careers, or allow opportunities elsewhere in the tech center in Iowa and beyond.

Young people — and older Iowans looking for career changes — should be applying right now for these scholarships, because they are out there, ripe for the grabbing.

“It’s the best opportunity I’ve seen,” said Joel Lundstrom, provost of DMACC’s Carroll campus. “Rarely are we able to combine free training with a promising career, too.”

Lundstrom just had two potential students in his office to talk about the program Tuesday. Students can take the courses in person in Carroll or remotely from other DMACC campuses — Boone, Perry or Ankeny, for example.

Starting in fall 2019, Corteva Agriscience will fund 25 scholarships — a total of $187,500 — for students in Des Moines Area Community College’s Computer Languages program, where they will receive computer science training. Upon completing their studies, select graduates will participate in a four-month commercial software development training program at a new office Pillar Technologies — which is now owned by Accenture — is opening in September. Or they can take the DMACC diploma and seek a career somewhere else.

“You could finish it in a year if you hustled, or you could take two years,” Lundstrom said.

With a $1.8 million renovation to renovate an 1880s building, Pillar expects to employ about 30 people in jobs paying up to $75,000, with some top leaders making more. Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley officially, and Jefferson in his heart, tells me more tech jobs are headed to Carroll and Jefferson and other reaches of rural America, making this computer-languages program an even bigger deal for our kids, and the adults with the pluck to seek new challenges for themselves.

Accenture and Corteva Agriscience, both traded on the New York Stock Exchange, will bring together non-profit groups, higher-education organizations and government leaders to allow rural Iowans to acquire technology skills while remaining in their communities — in a new region called the Lincoln Corridor that stretches from Carroll to Boone and down to Perry with a northern reach as well.

To qualify for the scholarships, students must meet the following criteria:

— Reside in the surrounding rural communities served by the Lincoln Corridor. The Lincoln Corridor is defined as the following communities in the State of Iowa: Adaza, Angus, Bagley, Bayard, Beaver, Berkley, Boone, Bouton, Boxholm, Carroll, Churdan, Coon Rapids, Cooper, Dana, Dawson, Dedham, Farnhamville, Fraser, Glidden, Gowrie, Grand Junction, Green Brier, Harcourt, Jamaica, Jefferson, Lake City, Lanesboro, Lanyon, Lidderdale, Lohrville, Ogden, Paton, Perry, Pilot Mound, Ralston, Rippey, Scranton, Willey and Winkelmans.

— Students’ most recent cumulative Grade Point Average must be at least a 3.0. Applicants with no recorded grade within the last 10 years will be exempt from this requirement.

The scholarship will pay up to $7,500 per year for tuition, books, and online fees. The scholarship is paid to the student’s account at Des Moines Area Community College.

Those interested can visit DMACC’s website at: https://www.dmacc.edu/foundation/Pages/ruralforge.aspx.

Or for more information, call DMACC counselor-advisor Jen Wollesen at 712-792-1755.