DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – Two Siouxland community colleges were each awarded a $50,000 competitive grant from the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa College Aid on Friday.

Western Iowa Tech Community College and Iowa Lakes Community College were two of the six community colleges to receive $50,000 competitive grants.

The grants will help establish new college and career transition counselor positions focusing on preparing more high school students for success in college, post-secondary training, and the workforce.

“Expanding college and career transition counselor roles will help more students explore opportunities and take steps for continued success beyond high school,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “I commend our community colleges and school district partners for their commitment to ensuring students identify their future goals and stay on a path to gain the education and skills needed for rewarding careers.”

The start-up grants will help new college and career counselors who will work in partnership with area school districts, students, and their families to support career exploration and transition to college and career training.

The counselors will also work closely with high school juniors and seniors during the school year as well as the summer after graduation and their first year of college or career training.

The grants will support 13 new college and career transition counselors who will work with students in 22 school districts across Iowa, including Estherville-Lincoln Central, Okoboji, Spencer, and Sioux City.

“Our research shows that about 1 in 5 high school seniors who intend to start college don’t actually get there,” said Iowa College Aid Executive Director Mark Wiederspan. “These counseling positions will be crucial to helping more young Iowans follow through on their college plans.”

The other four colleges were Des Moines Area Community College, Hawkeye Community College, Iowa Valley Community College, and Kirkwood Community College.