OTTUMWA — Indian Hills Community College received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor this month. The grant will go toward the college’s Job Corps Scholars program.

The program begins July 1 and will be similar to Ottumwa Job Corps. It will provide students hands-on training, except they won’t reside on campus. A large portion of the funds will cover tuition, books and fees and transportation fees for students who enroll in the program.

Ashleigh Richmond, program director, was enthusiastic when she found out Indian Hills was one of 20 colleges to receive this grant. “I’m excited this will pay for tuition, books, and fees for students,” she said. “This makes college an option for students who might not otherwise consider it.”

Marlene Sprouse, the college’s president, is also looking forward to the program and how it will benefit students.

“The college and the Ottumwa Job Corps Center have a very strong partnership,” Sprouse said. “We believe that this grant will allow us to serve even more students from the 10-county area with the same quality of support as the Job Corps Center. Staff will provide students with the technical training and skills they need to become employed in their field upon graduation.”

The grant will also establish five new positions at the college that will provide personalized employment and career counseling and specialized “getting ahead in the workplace training.” The services will provide Indian Hills students with career and workforce training opportunities similar to what is offered at the Ottumwa Job Corps Center.

Students who enroll in business specialist, clinical lab assistant, commercial driver training (CDL), computer accounting, health unit coordinator, HVAC & Refrigeration, industrial maintenance technician, or phlebotomy technician programs may apply. They must also be between 16 to 24 years old and be U.S citizens, legal permanent residents, refugees, or be DACA recipients.

Richmond said the “program is one step toward building a career.” She said one of her goals for the program is to reach as many students as possible.

“It supports students and it will allow students to be successful in their future careers,” she said. “Our goal is to target students from Ottumwa, Fairfield, and Centerville, but also surrounding areas like Oskaloosa. This is meant for 16 to 24 year olds who have low incomes. We’re looking for ways to ensure they’ll be successful in the workforce.”

The program will serve 40 students each year. Richmond encourages students to sign up as soon as possible. The college will enroll interested students for the fall 2020 term starting August 31. For more information about the program contact Richmond at 641-683-5189 or at

Chiara Romero can be reached at


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