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Iowa Central and iJAG to Launch Pilot Program

    by Iowa Central/iJAG
    Posted on 3/30/2024

FORT DODGE, Iowa (March 29, 2024) - Announced today, Iowa Central Community College will launch a new pilot program to increase recruitment and retention focusing on in-state jobs. The Early College Success Program (ECSP) with Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) aims to boost workforce in statewide high-demand occupations. 

The ECSP will start in August as a tailored collaboration between Iowa Central and iJAG, a statewide nonprofit organization that typically partners with Iowa’s secondary school districts to deliver career development in classrooms. Iowa Central will be the only postsecondary institution to implement the iJAG Early College Success Program model. 

Iowa Central and iJAG will target a select group of students along with iJAG students who need additional competency-based career support for transitioning from high school to postsecondary/career training during years one and two of enrollment for high-demand occupations requiring a 2-year degree. A highly trained and qualified Career Success Coordinator will work in the high school and on campus to implement programming alongside the school district staff and Iowa Central faculty. The curriculum will feature career readiness, on-the-job earn and learn, projects with employers, tailored career counseling, brain health support and more. Part of this program will be building a pipeline of students receiving college credit while in high school and ensuring they have a career pathway into high-demand occupations. 

“For 24 years, we’ve been able to prove that our program model works for students in grades six through twelve plus the one year following graduation,” said iJAG President & CEO Dr. Wendy Mihm-Herold. “We want to continue our momentum beyond high school graduation and this pilot program will propel us to expand our reach to meet the needs of students who continue in postsecondary institutions across Iowa. We look forward to working closely with Iowa Central to leverage proven strategies that positively impact student engagement and performance, employer services and career preparedness to help young people discover, plan and prepare for a future employment in Iowa.”

“We want students to come to Iowa Central, finish their degrees and certifications in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of student loan debt possible, so they can have a better life. Iowa community colleges are the statewide leader in workforce training and development. We are proud to partner with iJAG, who has a track record of success in increasing retention and graduation rates, to bring those services to students at Iowa Central to increase their potential to have a better life,” said Dr. Jesse Ulrich, President, Iowa Central Community College.

According to the Retaining Iowa’s Talent Report released by the Iowa Workforce Development in February 2024, there is a need for solutions like ECSP to help drive in-state jobs. In the Report, 4,260 college students were surveyed and the results showed the following:

• 40.8% will stay in Iowa after graduation; whereas 38% claim they will leave the state. ECSP at Iowa Central will uniquely connect every participant to in-state employers and job opportunities. 

*Of those who plan to stay in Iowa after graduation (1,738 students), 82.2% know what occupation they want to pursue. ECSP at Iowa Central will help students gain certainty and confidence in their career choice through tailored career and academic counseling, on-the-job learning and training, employer mentorships and more.

• Approximately 83.3% will consider employment opportunities when choosing to live in-state or out-of-state. ECSP at Iowa Central will feature engagements with local, regional and statewide employers. Currently, iJAG has relationships with employers statewide.

• Students enrolled at a community college are more likely to stay in Iowa; 19.5% more likely than those who attend a private four-year college and 23.4% more likely than those who attend a public four-year university. Based on the study, Iowa Central recognizes they can continue to serve as a leader for improved in-state retention. 

Programs such as ECSP at Iowa Central have the potential to improve graduation rates. If Iowa Central were to double its graduation rates, the benefits could include a $6.6 million increase in additional revenue for the school, the creation of 2,860 more jobs across the region, and an annual increase of $152.9 million in the local economy.

Iowa Central Community College; Iowa Central Community College serves a nine-county area consisting of Buena Vista, Calhoun, Greene, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Sac, Webster, and Wright. The college offers more than 99 academic programs, over 30 athletic programs, and numerous performing arts opportunities. Iowa Central partners with high school districts within the region to offer college credits as well. Iowa Central’s Fort Dodge campus spans across a 114-acre site where approximately 1,200 students live in apartment-style residences. Additionally, Iowa Central has campuses in Storm Lake and Webster City, and Career Academies in Laurens, Eagle Grove, and Jefferson. Besides traditional academic offerings, Iowa Central also provides services for local and area businesses through a variety of programs, career connections, and community education. To learn more, visit

Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) is a statewide nonprofit 501c3 organization who partners with Iowa school districts to deliver in-school career development programming. This includes leadership training, skill-building, employer engagement and tailored guidance. Iowa is one of 39 affiliates of Jobs for America’s Graduates, a nationally recognized program model for middle schools and high schools with one-year post-graduation services. Across the state, iJAG currently serves more than 7,200 students, grades 6-12, across 113 schools and 67 districts. iJAG graduated 97% of its participants as compared to a 90% graduation rate for non-participants across a five-year span. Additionally, unemployment for iJAG alumni is 4% lower than non-alumni. To learn more, visit

Iowa Central and iJAG to Launch Pilot Program

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