Heritage University receives $1.4 million grant from Biden-Harris Administration to tackle critical nurse shortage in central Washington

Heritage University receives $1.4 million grant from Biden-Harris Administration to tackle critical nurse shortage in central Washington


Heritage University receives a $1.4 million grant from Biden-Harris Administration to tackle critical nurse shortage in central Washington

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University announced it has received a three-year $1.4 million grant from the Biden-Harris Administration to launch an innovative program addressing the critical shortage of nurses in our rural communities. This strategic initiative called “Pathways to Opportunity” is designed to boost the number of skilled and diverse nurses, implementing a Grow Your Own model to engage local high school students, guide them through college preparation, recruit them into the university’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, and assist with their entry into the high-wage, high-demand local nursing workforce.

These funds originate from the Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development (RPED) grant program that promotes the development of high-quality career pathways aligned to high school, high-wage and in-demand industry sectors and occupations in any given region. In America’s rural communities, only 29% of people between 18-24 are in higher education, compared to almost 48% in urban areas and 42% in the suburbs. Rural students face challenges with accessing, paying for, and completing college. They also face barriers to having reliable transportation, access to health care and high-speed internet, and may suffer from food and housing insecurity.

Heritage University recognizes the urgent need to bridge the gap in healthcare professionals and is committed to developing a comprehensive career and college readiness pathway. The Grow Your Own model includes outreach efforts in the high schools to identify and support students interested in becoming nurses and guide and prepare them for college. Essential services offered using the Grow Your Own model will include dual enrollment, SAT/ACT preparation, tutoring, workshops, financial aid guidance, mentoring, advising and STEM summer bridge programs. Heritage will work closely with the University of Washington GEAR UP and workforce partners on developing these services. At the university, BSN students will receive support from two case managers who offer National Council Licensure Examination (or NCLEX, one of two standardized tests for licensing nurses) preparation, advising, coaching, mentoring, career guidance, internships, and other support programs to ensure retention and graduation.

Heritage University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Melissa Hill, Ph.D. stated that Heritage nursing is perfectly positioned positively impact the healthcare landscape by educating a new generation of skilled and diverse nurses to meet the growing needs of our local communities. “This substantial investment from the Biden-Harris administration underscores the importance of addressing the critical shortage of nurses in rural communities and Heritage University’s role in helping to fill those gaps,” said Dr. Hill.

Heritage University partnered with Research, Grants, and Information (RGI) Corporation of Sunnyside, Wash. to secure RPED funds for this Pathway to Opportunities initiative. RGI Corporation’s mission shares the Heritage University mission of impacting underrepresented and underserved communities socially, educationally, and economically for more than twenty years, and assisted in developing the successful grant application that was awarded. “RGI Corporation is pleased that Heritage University was awarded this highly competitive grant to train more nurses in addressing the workforce shortages in our rural communities,” said RGI Corporation CEO Robert Ozuna.

Pathways to Opportunity will focus on Native American, Hispanic, low-income, and first-generation high school and college students. Outreach will target students in the eight high schools and one tribally controlled school. For more information, please contact Melissa Hill at (509) 865-8584 or hill_m@heritage.edu. For help with media interviews, please contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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