Des Moines, IA, January 4, 2016The Iowa College Student Aid Commission (Iowa College Aid) announced today that United Way of Muscatine was awarded a $10,000 Planning Grant to support efforts to increase the college attainment rate in Muscatine as part of the agency’s “College Changes Everything” initiative.


This grant will enable United Way of Muscatine, working with a local Leadership Committee, to conduct strategic planning aimed at organizing and initiating a community-based local college access network (LCAN) dedicated to increasing college attainment among Muscatine students. The local Leadership Committee representatives are: Dr. Jerry Riibe (MCSD Superintendent), Bret Olson (Executive Director of Muscatine YMCA), Krista Regennitter (Muscatine County Extension Director), Christy Roby-Williams (Trinity Public Health Manager), Jaimie Cruise (New Horizons Prevention Coordinator), Kathie Anderson-Noel (Muscatine County Community Services Case Management Coordinator), Shane J. Orr (Executive Director of United Way of Muscatine) and Dr. Naomi DeWinter (President of Muscatine Community College).

“The ‘College Changes Everything’ initiative aims to help communities like Muscatine build a civic infrastructure that supports a comprehensive cradle-to-career educational system, rather than a lot of unconnected programs,” said Iowa College Aid Executive Director Karen Misjak.

Muscatine was awarded the grant, said Misjak, based on demonstrated need and a clear plan for working across private and public sectors to develop baseline measures for key educational indicators. At 25.5 percent, the adult population in Muscatine with an associate’s degree or higher is significantly lower than the state’s, which is 37 percent. By 2025, it is estimated that over 68 percent of all jobs in Iowa will require educational degrees or credentials beyond high school.

“We want to improve the percentage of people who attend and graduate from college and also get certified in many of the programs offered by our community colleges,” said United Way of Muscatine’s Executive Director Shane Orr. “Not only does the additional education and training increase earning power, it provides more opportunity for people to live and work in Muscatine.”  The grant will allow community leaders to focus on increasing the percentage of 18 – 24 year olds who enter postsecondary education and vocational programs, said Orr, adding “we will be able complete a landscape scan of current programs and identify gaps or barriers to accessing college or vocational programs.”

Dr. Jerry Riibe, Superintendent for the Muscatine Community School District, sees the planning grant as “an important first step in developing a truly collaborative effort around raising education attainment in our area.”

Iowa College Aid’s ‘College Changes Everything’ initiative supports the goal set by Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds to ensure that 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce have obtained education and training beyond high school by 2025. In addition, the agency has also adopted Goal 2025, a national education attainment goal set by the Lumina foundation, which aims to increase the number of students receiving high-value educational degrees. Initiatives such as ‘College Changes Everything’ play critical roles in achieving these goals by mobilizing communities and increasing the visibility and impact of collaborative work to increase higher educational attainment.

About the Iowa College Student Aid Commission
Iowa College Aid provides college access, financial literacy, and outreach services to Iowa’s students and families as they prepare, plan and pay for college.  Iowa College Aid also administers state scholarship, grant, work study, and loan forgiveness programs totaling over $70.0 million annually, conducts research and distributes higher education data, and offers Iowans assistance in obtaining student financial aid and college-related information. Through its role, Iowa College Aid also serves as the state-designated administrator of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Access Challenge Grant, which is designed to increase the college-going culture in Iowa.  Additionally, Iowa College Aid is the administrator of the Federal GEAR-UP Grant, a multi-year state-wide grant which is being utilized to provide early awareness programming and outreach initiatives to thousands of Iowa’s students and families.  More information is available at