Getting Started with KPACE

Making your career dreams a reality is hard work, but worthwhile. If you are in a low-income wage bracket and are eligible to work in the U.S., the KPACE program can help you earn a two-year degree and achieve your goals as you navigate your journey to a brighter future.

Learn more about your next steps on the Get Started tab below. Watch the video Getting Started with KPACE there also for additional info and guidance on how to begin. Contact one of our Pathway Navigators at the bottom of this page if you have questions about any of the programs or are ready to move forward with your journey.

KPACE stands for Kirkwood Pathways for Academic Career Education and Employment. Our mission is to help students access education and resources to develop skills and obtain self-sustaining employment in high-demand industries.

Choose from these two options:

  • Short-term certificate training that may just take a matter of weeks (the cost of training is paid for by KPACE)
  • One-year diploma or two-year degree programs (KPACE provides a biweekly stipend to offset personal and academic expenses)

To enroll in KPACE and be successful, you need to:

  • Have a high school diploma, HiSED, or GED from the U.S. or your home country.
  • Be at English Level 4 – Advanced or above.
  • Have minimum CASAS test scores in Reading and Math or pass the National Career Readiness Certificate test.
  • Be eligible to work in the U.S.

Are you missing one of these? Don’t worry – KPACE has resources to help you. You can start with Adult Basic Education, English classes, or a high school equivalency diploma, then follow the next steps to certification, an advanced diploma or an associate’s degree.

KPACE works with all students to make sure they’re ready for their educational journey. All three pathways are structured in a way that lets you choose when you’ll train for your new career in a way that’s easier to manage as an adult learner.

KPACE is looking for people who are:

  • Seeking to earn a livable wage.
  • Low income (below 250% of the federal poverty level).
  • Dedicated to increasing their skills.
  • Unemployed or underemployed.
  • Dislocated workers – someone who has had their career outsourced or replaced by technology.
  • Sincerely interested in building a future career in healthcare, manufacturing, or business.

Throughout your time in KPACE, we will assist you with testing, book fees, and any tools or uniforms you might need.

Pathway navigators work with you to determine what you need to be successful. This could include personal, career, financial, or resiliency support. We will be your partner as you navigate your journey toward success.

Program Expectations

These programs do not cost our students any money, but we do require an investment in the form of meeting the expectations for our program. The expectations are modeled on workplace standards that you’ll meet in your new career.

  • Attendance: The certificate training class goal is 100% attendance.
  • Total participation with a positive attitude.
  • Punctuality: Being on time for all classes and trainings.
  • Regular contact with your Pathway Navigator before, during and after training.
  • The desire and drive to make a change.
  • Being prepared to seek employment with your new credential after training.

All prospective students are required to participate in a free online workshop with your Pathway Navigator. Navigating Your Journey will guide you through conversations and activities that support you in developing a personalized action plan. Your Pathway Navigator can give you more details. This workshop is required by all tuition assistance programs.

Next Steps for KPACE

  1. Register with a Pathway Navigator for the Navigating Your Journey workshop and complete the workshop.
  2. Contact your Pathway Navigator to schedule an interview.
  3. After speaking to your Pathway Navigator, take the CASAS Reading and Math tests or the National Career Readiness Certificate.

Meet the Pathway Navigators

Kelly Foresman, KPACE Navigator

Cedar Rapids: Certified Nurse Aide program


Kirkwood Center for Lifelong Learning

Randy Knudson, KPACE Navigator

Cedar Rapids: Welding and Medical Office Professional programs


Kirkwood Center for Lifelong Learning

Peggy Linden, KPACE Navigator

Iowa City: Certified Nurse Aide and Medical Office Professional programs


Iowa City Learning Center

Cedar Rapids Main Campus
319-398-5899, ext 5069