Partnering to Enhance Career and College Preparation in Rural Kansas and Oklahoma

Partnering to Enhance Career and College Preparation in Rural Kansas and Oklahoma

ICC is excited to announce a new initiative to enhance post-secondary career and education opportunities for students in 12 rural high schools across Kansas and Oklahoma. Each partner school is located in a rural-distant or rural-remote area, with ICC situated in a town-remote locale.

ICC has been selected to receive funding under the Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development Program. This grant will be in the amount of $2,225,606 for the first budget period (10/1/2024 through 9/30/2028) and is anticipated to cover a total of four years.

In collaboration with several key local organizations, ICC aims to leverage unique regional assets to support students' career and college preparation:

  • ICC Fab Lab: Home to a fully equipped and MIT-certified 3-D Fabrication Laboratory since 2014, the Fab Lab will extend its expertise through a Mobile Fab Lab, touring rural schools to provide hands-on learning experiences.
  • KansasWorks Employment Center: With a regional office in Independence, KansasWorks will work closely with ICC to seek apprenticeship and internship opportunities for youth pursuing post-secondary careers.
  • Delaware Tribe of Indians: The Tribe's Kansas office in Caney will benefit from the Mobile Fab Lab educational tours, extending this resource to the Tribe’s wider community.
  • William Inge Center for the Arts: As a nationally prominent theater company and producer of Kansas’ Official Theatre Festival, the Center will utilize its arts education program to tour a production featuring trained, paid actors.

This project focuses on providing rural schools with services that increase post-secondary education success. Key roles involved include a Pathways Advisor, Professional Tutor, K-12 Fab Lab Learning Facilitator, and Higher Education Recruiter. The initiative targets approximately 2,000 students across the 12 high schools.

Through staff visits to project schools, students will learn about various opportunities, assess their interests and needs, and be encouraged to pursue suitable apprenticeship, internship, employment, and education options. The goal is to connect rural students with career or academic pathways that match their interests and aptitudes, leading to increased employment in desirable professions and higher rates of enrollment and success in higher education for rural students.

"This initiative is a fantastic opportunity to bring innovative educational resources and career opportunities to students in rural areas," said said Tamara Blaes, Director of Rural Outreach Education. "We are excited to collaborate with our local partners to help students achieve their post-secondary goals and build a brighter future for our communities."

For more information about this initiative, please contact: Tamara Blaes at

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