Ascendium Education Group Grant Provides Rural Learners New Opportunities

April 17, 2024 – Goodwill of the Heartland is extending career development to rural communities thanks to an award funded by the Ascendium Education Group. The grant supports the expansion of the Goodwill Opportunity Accelerator™ program into new postsecondary training pathways aligned with the needs of the local labor market. Specifically, the initiative builds added capacity to provide low-income rural learners with the training and support necessary to obtain a job with a living wage and prepare for future professional advancement.

Goodwill Career Centers serve rural communities by strengthening partnerships with local workforce development boards, employers, community colleges and other providers. Goodwill of the Heartland will reach out to employment and training partners to further enhance opportunities in rural counties. The Goodwill Opportunity Accelerator elevates opportunities so people can complete degrees, certifications and apprenticeships. It provides the additional support needed for people to stabilize and thrive in their new roles.

Currently, Goodwill of the Heartland provides industry-recognized training and credentials in hospitality, information technology, custodial and customer service while supporting people to enhance their success. This funding – $120,000 over three years – builds greater capacity to expand such training opportunities within our service area.

“This grant will help us identify areas where training is needed and develop stronger partnerships to help individuals in our service area gain skills for high-paying jobs,” said Vice President of Mission Services Carmen Heck.

Goodwill of the Heartland is one of eight Goodwill organizations nationwide chosen for this investment. It is the only such organization in Iowa and Illinois. Other locations include Hawaii (Honolulu), Indiana (Indianapolis), Michigan (Kalamazoo), Minnesota (Duluth and St. Paul), Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) and Virginia (Fredericksburg).


Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. This is accomplished, in part, by investing in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs. Emphasis is placed on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. More information: