A nonprofit corporation is launching an effort to draw new teachers into subject areas where there are teacher shortages in Iowa. Tim Bottaro, chair of the board of directors for Iowa Student Loan, describes the initiative as a signing bonus for newly graduated educators.

Iowa Student Loan is planning to set aside $125,000 a year in grant money that will go to first-year teachers in such recognized shortage areas as math, science and foreign languages. Bottaro says a new teacher would receive a one-time gift of $2,000 to cover the costs of starting a career.

“They can use it for rent, student loans, clothing, moving expenses or classroom supplies,” Bottaro said. “We don’t make them turn in any receipts or anything like that.” Bottaro believes the program could prove effective in recruiting and retaining young teachers.

“For the superintendents and principals, people doing the hiring, this is something else to talk about when we’re competing with people around the country for new teachers in these shortage areas,” Bottaro said. “This is a carrot, so to speak, to extend to people as to why to come to Iowa or why to stay in Iowa.”

The application process is done online and the grants are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Bottaro says Iowa Student Loan is covering the cost of the program from its regular operating budget.