Burlington Community School District will be among four districts in the state to implement a student support pantry made possible by a new partnership between Molina Healthcare of Iowa and the Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates program. 

“The goal of this grant is to allow students to focus on their goals and the things that they need to achieve, so we’re really excited about the opportunity to be able to do that,” Jennifer Vermeer, plan president for Molina, said Monday before presenting iJAG with a check for $25,000. 

“Burlington High School is very excited to be selected by iJAG as one of only four school districts in the state to partner with Molina, and we know this partnership is going to allow our students opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be made available,” BHS Principal Monica Myers said. “Whether it be through food insecurities, their basic personal needs, or related influences, this partnership will make a really positive impact on our students.”

The grant will allow iJAG specialists like Burlington’s Jeff Woodside to stock what will be called the Molina Corner with snack and hygiene products that their students need. 

Woodside said the partnership not only will help to meet student needs, but it also has the potential to provide further career exposure opportunities for iJAG students.

“I have a number of students this year interested in careers in healthcare or going into the healthcare field, so that’s another opportunity that we can make happen,” Woodside said, adding that he hopes to be able to arrange for healthcare professionals from Molina to come speak to students. 

This past school year was the first that iJAG was made available to Burlington juniors and seniors. This fall, that implementation will expand to include sophomores and freshmen, as well as seventh- and eighth-graders. 

IJAG is a non-profit organization that partners with school districts and private businesses to deliver grades 7-12 career development programming such as leadership training, career education, individualized guidance and employer engagement. There currently are about 165 iJAG programs serving more than 8,200 students across the state of Iowa. 

“We partner with employers to make sure we have meaningful opportunities for students and now we’re excited to have Molina on board for our partner to help us make sure that our students have those basic needs so that they can thrive and achieve all those great things they have in front of them,” said iJAG Director of Employer Strategy and Performance Jill Padgett. 

The idea to launch a network of student supply pantries was spurred by the results of a survey sent to iJAG specialists who largely reported a desire to meet basic needs of students so they’re able to come to school ready to learn. 

State Rep. Taylor Collins, who was present for the check presentation, commended BCSD’s implementation of and expansion of iJAG, as well as the partnership between iJAG and Molina. 

“It really takes those private partners like Molina Healthcare and like the school district to get iJAG to work, so I just want to thank Superintendent (Robert) Scott and board members for continuing to expand iJAG programs here in Burlington,” Collins said. 

Mask group

Read the latest issue of The Burlington Bark

The Burlington Bark is our district newsletter.