$50,000 grant supports college access


Donna Loewen 
DCAN Coordinator 

For immediate release 

DUBUQUE, Iowa — Thanks to a grant from Iowa College Aid, the Dubuque College Access Network (DCAN) will be able to continue its efforts to bring post-secondary education within reach for more students. 

The $49,234 grant provides important funding for efforts that support students who face barriers to continuing their education after high school. DCAN focuses on ways to make post-secondary education a reality for students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and those who represent the first generation of their family to pursue college. 

“This funding truly honors the work we are doing,” says DCAN Coordinator Donna Loewen. “With our community partners, we are changing the narrative around college access and helping more students understand that continuing their education is something they can achieve.” 

The work of DCAN is supported in large part by Iowa College Aid grant funds. Iowa College Aid provides funding, training and technical assistance to develop Local College Access Networks around the State of Iowa. 

Facilitated by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, DCAN brings together leaders from many different areas, including education, business and nonprofit, to identify and implement programs and policies aimed at increasing enrollment in post-secondary education. Ultimately, the network aims to increase enrollment in post-secondary education or training among Dubuque youth from 71% today to 80% by 2025. 

“The work of this initiative is important to the future of Iowa and, in particular, the city of Dubuque,” says Stan Rheingans, superintendent of the Dubuque Community School District, a DCAN partner. “Well-rounded, well-educated people will be necessary for future jobs, many of which are yet to be defined or created.” 

In line with its commitment to DCAN’s work, the school district has set the goal of 95% of students taking a post-secondary qualifying test by 2023 and is aiming for 100% of students to have a college- or career-ready experience while in high school. 

For students like Marcus Moore of Dubuque, the additional focus on college access has led to a promising future. The Dubuque Senior High School graduate will be attending the University of Dubuque this fall as a business major and football player. 

“I knew getting to college wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but it would be a very worthy walk,” says Moore. “I’ve been thinking about it since freshman year.” 

In the coming year, DCAN has numerous outreach efforts planned to connect with high school students, including support for college and career fairs, participation in a webinar series on federal student financial aid, and participation in the #WeBelongInCollege social media campaign. 

"Students play an important role in DCAN’s work, especially those who are among the first in their family to attend college,” says Loewen. “They serve as ambassadors for higher education, and by sharing their stories, they can serve as role models for high school students.” 

The new Iowa College Aid grant builds on previous funding from the organization, as well as matching support from local partners. Since Loewen joined the Community Foundation as DCAN coordinator in 2018, she has overseen more than $64,000 in funding from Iowa College Aid. 

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The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque envisions a vibrant and inclusive Dubuque region where everyone can thrive. Since 2002, we have inspired people to give back to their community, and we turn this generosity into lasting change across our region, increasing access to resources and opportunities that help all people succeed.    

Visit dbqfoundation.org to learn about the many ways we are building a strong, thriving Greater Dubuque for all.