OPINION: Idaho LAUNCH is Putting Idaho Students First

Tuesday November 14, 2023

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling this month. Autumn in Idaho is a beautiful season, rich with changing colors and the sure signs of winter right around the corner. Driving the state is challenging, just because of its sheer size and geographic diversity, but it’s also a visual treat.

Every time I travel through our great state, I am grateful to live here. And I want my children and grandchildren – and yours as well – to enjoy the same privilege of living, working, and raising their families right here in Idaho.

The primary goal of my recent travels has been to visit with high school seniors, encouraging them to take advantage of a promising new opportunity – the Idaho LAUNCH program.  LAUNCH is an opportunity for qualifying students to receive a grant for 80% of their post-secondary education costs, up to $8,000, to be used at an Idaho-based in-demand career program.

In case you haven’t heard, Idaho is the envy of the nation. Over the past few years, we have experienced record economic growth. Our conservative guiding principles and responsible policymaking, combined with Idahoans’ hard work, have created one of the strongest economies in the nation. Even with our record back-to-back-to-back income tax cuts and rebates, we’re still enjoying budget surpluses.

As I’ve spent time with high school students the past few weeks, I’ve seen an eagerness in them, a desire to find meaningful work right here in Idaho. They want to stay here and be successful, raising a family and pursuing a career choice that will provide for that family in the future.  These young people are engaged and involved, and they know their career options will be much brighter with additional training after high school. But post-secondary education may seem out of reach for many young Idahoans and their families.

This is where the Idaho LAUNCH program comes in.

To qualify for LAUNCH’s inaugural release, here are the requirements:

  • Must be enrolled in or have applied to an approved Idaho in-demand career program
  • Must be an Idaho resident
  • Must be a graduate of an Idaho high school or GED program from the Class of 2024 or later
  • Must begin enrollment by the first fall semester after graduation
  • Must complete a Career Pathway Plan at NextSteps.Idaho.gov

This program is not just for those who are college-bound. LAUNCH is for ALL paths forward. Do you want to be a lineman? A cosmetologist? A plumber? A nurse?  This program is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. From certain bachelor’s degrees to truck driving certifications, LAUNCH will connect students with options for in-demand careers and help launch them on a post-secondary path that works for them.

Idaho is in the nation’s top ten for everything from economic performance to employment growth. A capable, well-rounded workforce is what we need to sustain and even improve our already thriving economy. Many businesses rely on a pipeline of talented young people who are prepared to enter the workforce. I believe the key to continuing our economic growth is to connect Idaho’s youth to the best opportunities possible here in the Gem State.

Everyone can benefit from a post-secondary education, including Idaho herself. The LAUNCH program is a win-win-win: for Idaho students, Idaho employers, and our beloved state. My hope for the future is that every Idaho kid can always find an Idaho job. Idaho LAUNCH is the state’s commitment to help them do just that.