Skip to Content
Close Icon

NewsVGM Awarded Language Learning Program Grant

VGM Group, Inc. was one of 11 employers awarded the Iowa Language Learners Job Training Program Grant on March 8. The goal of this grant is to develop solutions to reduce language barriers for Iowa-based companies.

“Over the last two years, Iowa has put a significant focus on identifying remaining workforce barriers and overcoming them with innovative solutions,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

Language barriers have become increasingly common as VGM continues to recruit employees of diverse backgrounds. In just one of VGM’s divisions, over a third of the business unit’s employee owners are Spanish-first speakers, and of those, 33% report to someone who does not speak Spanish fluently. This means that supervisors and managers cannot fully understand one-third of those who report to them.

Reducing language barriers positively impacts employees both at work and within their community. It can improve safety in warehouse and production settings, as a misunderstanding due to language could unintentionally result in serious injury. Language education also creates opportunities for growth and development at work. And it allows individuals to better engage and feel belonging in the communities where they live.

With this grant, VGM will create an internal language program to strengthen communication and unify teams that were otherwise experiencing barriers through language. Over the next two years, VGM’s goal will be to develop a program to consistently educate small, focused groups of employees at each of the main VGM locations in six-month guided durations. The anticipated outcome of this program is that employees will have options for learning fluent English or Spanish that can help them grow within the company, as well as improving retention, attendance, and morale by cutting down the language barrier as much as possible.

“We’re incredibly grateful that VGM has this opportunity to take the necessary steps to develop this program,” said VGM Chief People Officer Sara Laures. “Not only will this benefit and support our current employee owners, but this opens the door for bringing in more highly qualified talent.”

VGM was awarded the full grant requested of $163,500, the most of the 11 recipients. VGM’s goal with the assistance of this grant will be to provide high quality on-site language training in focused, intimate groups totaling up to 144 employees over the two-year grant period, but VGM anticipates continuing the program for years to come in addition to helping other companies develop a similar program to support their employees.


Headquartered in Waterloo, Iowa, VGM is a 100% employee-owned company providing business and professional services to thousands of business customers across North America. Services include group purchasing, commercial insurance, management of healthcare services and networks in post-acute cases, healthcare distribution direct to patient homes, specialty consulting, online education, digital, print, and traditional marketing, and more. VGM employs more than 1,500 people across 36 states and Canada. Approximately 600 people work in the Waterloo offices and the remainder work in one of VGM’s eight offices outside of Waterloo or work from home. VGM has been named the Top Workplace in Iowa on multiple occasions and is proud of its role in the communities in which it serves. For more information visit