ALEXANDRIA– The Rapides Foundation has awarded five grants totaling $4,450,025 to address shortages in the Central Louisiana healthcare workforce by developing an ongoing pool of K-12 students who are interested in pursuing healthcare careers and are academically prepared to succeed in postsecondary training programs.
Future of HealthC.A.R.E. (Career, Academic Readiness and Exploration for Students) Program grants have been awarded to the Catahoula Parish School Board, Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center, Louisiana State University of Alexandria, Northwestern State University and Louisiana Central.
The Future of HealthC.A.R.E. grant is offered under the Foundation’s Healthcare Access Initiative and complements the Foundation’s Healthcare Occupations Program, which was created in 2016 and funds projects at the postsecondary level.
The Foundation launched the Future of HealthC.A.R.E. grant in 2022 to target students in grades K-12 within the Foundation’s nine-parish service area. Grants were awarded in September. Grantees started a planning period on November 1 with implementation beginning in June 2023.
“Shortages in the healthcare workforce have been a critical issue for many years in our region,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “The Foundation’s Healthcare Occupations Program addresses this issue through grants at the postsecondary level to increase the number of graduates entering the workforce. New projects under the Future of HealthC.A.R.E. grant will provide an avenue for students to learn about healthcare occupations at an earlier age, to prepare them for the academic rigors of healthcare training programs, and to build technical skills needed to pursue healthcare careers.”
The following organizations received Future of HealthC.A.R.E. grants:
Catahoula Parish School Board received a five-year grant in the amount of $453,500 to provide high school graduates the opportunity to earn valued credentials in the health sciences while in high school. Current students will first participate in a Career Interest Survey through a partnership with Career Compass of Louisiana. Students who indicate an interest in the healthcare profession will then be eligible to enroll in Career Exploration courses through Imagine Learning online platform. For the project, Catahoula is partnering with Central Louisiana Technical Community College to provide high school students with the following industry-based certifications: NHA Certified Pharmacy Technician, NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, and NHA Certified EKG Technician.
The Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center received a five-year $1,120,000 grant to launch ““A-HEC of a Career in HealthC.A.R.E.,” which includes two components: MedStart and Camp Fast Forward. The MedStart program involves development of a “strike team” of a variety of healthcare professionals that would visit middle schools within the academic year to showcase their profession, discuss training, jobs, and complete a hands-on activity with the students. Camp Fast Forward, a one-week, parish-based, summer camp, allows middle school youth a hands-on introduction to health career options through simulation activities, science experiments as it relates to healthcare, first aid and CPR certification, goal setting and planning for the future. Central Louisiana AHEC strives to expose a minimum of 2,450 students to careers and opportunities in healthcare over the course of the grant.
Louisiana State University of Alexandria received a five-year grant in the amount of $1,110,000 to address the critical nursing shortage in the region by creating excitement and passion for a career in healthcare among youth in Central Louisiana. Grant activities include offering Future Nurse Summer Camps and establishing Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Chapters in middle/high schools. HOSA is an international student organization that provides students opportunities for healthcare career exploration and leadership development for future healthcare professionals.
Northwestern State University received a $1,166,525 grant for a five-year Healthcare Academic & Career Exploration (Healthcare ACE) project, a no-cost program intended to increase high school students’ awareness and preparation for healthcare careers and academic programs. The project focuses on all nine parishes within The Rapides Foundation Service Area. High Schools can partner with Healthcare ACE by identifying students interested in learning and working in healthcare fields. College faculty and students will lead high school students through a one-day series of hands-on learning workshops that will increase student awareness of healthcare careers and the necessary steps for entry into the fields of Nursing & Allied Health, Psychology, Addiction Studies, and Social Work.
Louisiana Central was awarded a three-year $600,000 grant to create Healthcare Career Central, the first regional healthcare career highway campaign in Central Louisiana. The initiative will collaboratively link employers, training providers and other partners to students, teachers, counselors and parents through a central website, social media campaign, and ongoing communication and networking events. The goal is to expose more students to the diverse local careers in healthcare, the pathways to those careers, and the resources available along the way. Work on this grant began in November.
More information about funding opportunities offered by The Rapides Foundation can be found by visitingwww.rapidesfoundation.org and clicking on the “Grants” tab.