WE Build Waterloo 2023 NCWE Exemplary Program Award Recipient

posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2023 in  College News

Hawkeye Community College is located in Waterloo, Iowa, and was founded in 1966 as Hawkeye Institute of Technology. Waterloo’s population 66,934 (U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) 2017-2021), is one of the largest and most demographically diverse cities in Iowa. Waterloo has a 24.4% minority population, well above the state’s minority population of 8.4% (ACS, 2017-2021). 16.4% of the residents of Waterloo live at or below the poverty levels, and our county, Black Hawk, is one of the highest in the state at 15%. The national average for those living in poverty is 12.6% (ACS, 2017-2021).

State of Iowa Department of Education (IA DE) data indicates Waterloo Community School District’s high school graduation rate was 81.1% in 2021, while the state average was 90.2%. Students with a low socio-economic status have a graduation rate of 76.9% with the state average of 82.3%. Reviewing this data of the largest 15 school districts in Iowa, Waterloo has the sixth highest dropout rate.

Hawkeye launched WE Build Waterloo in June 2020 to help address these challenges. A community-based quality pre-apprenticeship program, WE Build Waterloo provides a 12-week tuition-free non-credit competency-based education to individuals with employment barriers. In addition to learning high-demand construction skills, students earn industry-recognized certifications and receive career counseling, resume assistance, interview preparation, team building, and leadership and personal skills development. During the program, students engage in a residential construction or rehabilitation that is later sold to a family connected to Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity.

WE Build was founded on principles of redefining access to college education, redeveloping neglected neighborhoods, and serving the community holistically, while creating a talent pipeline for the construction industry. Our goals are 74% of all enrollees obtain their high school equivalency credentials, high school diplomas, and/or industry-recognized credentials, 90% of program completers continue their education or transition to full-time employment, 73% of those placed in education or employment retain their placement for at least six months, recidivism rates within one year of enrollment for court-involved students average 15%, and rehabilitate or build new at least one property for low income families per year.

WE Build is more than a workforce training program; it is a community development program providing a talent pipeline to local registered apprenticeship employers and sponsors. It helps reduce poverty through education, increases access to quality affordable housing, and revitalizes blighted neighborhoods.

Read the full submission [pdf]

Article by: The National Council for Workforce Education


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