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Northern Essex Awarded $300,000 for Diversifying Nursing Pathways Initiative

Submitted by on November 15, 2022 – 1:24 pm

Haverhill, MA (November 14, 2022)– Northern Essex Community College is one of ten community colleges from across the nation selected to participate in a new initiative aimed at addressing the nursing shortage. The Accelerating and Diversifying Nursing Pathways at Community Colleges Initiative is designed to increase access to nursing careers for people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds and address systemic barriers they might face.

two nursing students, one sitting and one standing look at paperwork, they're wearing blue scrubs with white lab coats

Northern Essex nursing students

“The goals of the program include strengthening our healthcare partnerships to collectively increase enrollment, completion, licensure, and job attainment for our healthcare students,” says NECC Director of Grants Development Karen Rooney.  “Strategic partners will share our focus on equity to enhance economic and social mobility for all students, particularly those that have historically been underserved and underrepresented, and provide opportunities wherever students are.”

The initiative is awarded through the Achieving the Dream (ATD) organization and is made possible by support from the Brave of Heart Fund. Participating colleges will each be awarded $300,000 between now and May 31, 2025. The funding will support the schools to create stronger pathways to employment in the nursing field, particularly for those students who represent the diversity of the communities they serve. According to ATD, changing these outcomes requires a combination of evidence-based, culturally responsive, high-impact, and scalable strategies to meet the needs of local and regional labor markets and reduce equity gaps.

At Northern Essex, Rooney says that will mean taking an innovative approach to coordinating existing programs and support services. “NECC’s Division of Health Professions will create curriculum ‘ladders’ that will connect Credit for Prior Learning, non-credit offerings, and credit pathways to provide all students with an appropriate starting place, opportunities for stacking educational and career experiences, and an academic path that leads each student to an employer with identified workforce needs in the community.”

aerial view of the el hefni building in Lawrence

Most NECC health programs are located at the El-Hefni Allied Health & Technology Center on Common St in Lawrence.

The cohort of colleges will begin meeting this week with ATD to create detailed action plans. Susan Mayer, chief learning officer at ATD, says, ‘’We are proud to partner with these ten colleges with the support of the Brave of Heart Fund to increase the number of nurses in the workforce, diversify the nursing pathways, and accelerate the completion of valuable credentials. We will be working closely with the colleges to understand the impact the implementation of instructional, support, and system strategies have on improving leading indicators of longer-term outcomes.”

Northern Essex is the only community college in New England chosen to participate in the initiative. View a complete list of participants here.  For more information about health care programs at NECC, visit the website or contact interim Dean of Health Services Kathy Hudson.