Pottawattamie Promise is an Iowa West Foundation initiative designed to:
- Better prepare high school students for post-secondary education
- Eliminate financial and other barriers to access with full-ride scholarships and support services
- Support and counsel students to pursue a college degree and/or to complete a certificate program
Pottawattamie Promise is based on the belief that students who receive both education and wraparound support services can and will go on to earn competitive wages in fulfilling careers and contribute to their communities. Put simply, the program allows more local students the opportunity to earn the credentials they need to acquire well-paid jobs upon graduation.
How it Works
Students can apply for the program during their sophomore year of high school. Preference is given to first-generation, low-income students who fall in the academic middle and for whom college would not be possible without scholarships and support services. Part of the selection process includes an interview with high school and college representatives.
Students selected for Pottawattamie Promise are required to take college-level courses during their junior and senior years, including statistics and strategies for academic success, which is a three-credit hour college readiness course. This not only introduces students to the academic rigor of college, but also provides some flexibility in the number of credits they need to take when they enroll at Iowa Western.
Pottawattamie Promise students also receive tailored and targeted supports to help them succeed. This includes career exploration and planning, proactive (also known as intrusive) advising, co-curricular supports and a summer series which aims to smooth the transition from high school to college. When possible, students are placed together in campus housing to ease the transition.
The support services continue throughout their time at Iowa Western. Specialized orientation keeps the students together as a group. College advisors are very deliberate when working with the students to ensure they take advantage of academic tutoring, writing and math labs, and other interventions to help them build a growth mindset.
A management committee comprised of administrators and counselors from each school district, as well as Iowa Western Community College, meet regularly to continually improve and evolve the program to best support students. For instance, mental health education has been added to the summer series, and families, not just the students, are involved throughout the process.
Pottawattamie Promise is a unique collaboration, led by Iowa West Foundation, in partnership with Peter Kiewit Foundation and Iowa Western Community College. The participating school districts include two urban school districts (Council Bluffs Community Schools and Lewis Central Community Schools) and three rural school districts (Riverside, AHSTW and Tri-Center).
Pottawattamie Promise students have higher high school and college grade point averages than their peers. The college retention rate from fall to spring for these students is 12 percent higher than that of other first-time, full-time students. The three-year college graduation rate is higher, too – 23 percent higher.
Pottawattamie Promise and its students will help establish Pottawattamie County as a premier education community with a strong, trained workforce.
1. Increased high school graduation rates
2. Increased number of students college/certificate and career-ready
3. Increased postsecondary enrollment and completion
4. Seamless education to career pathways
5. A culture where earning a college degree, obtaining professional certification, or becoming skilled in a trade is the norm in our community.
AHSTW Community School District
Tri-Center School District
Iowa Western Community College
Riverside Community School District
Lewis Central Community School District
712-366-8212 ext. 7358
Council Bluffs Community School District
712-328-6514 Ext. 11344