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March 7, 2023

State schools and universities get funding for nursing, social work programs

PHOTO | Courtesy Quinnipiac University The Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Quinnipiac University.

CT Health Horizons has awarded $30.5 million to 20 nonprofit state colleges and universities to help address the nursing and social worker shortage across the state.

It is a partnership between multiple state agencies, including Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), Office of Workforce Strategy (OWS), University of Connecticut (UConn) and the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC).

CSCU President Terrence Cheng said the program will expand the ability for schools to recruit faculty for their nursing and social work programs. These faculty will help students enrolled in these programs succeed in their academics and future careers, he noted.

Southern Connecticut State University will receive $1.4 million through the grant for its accelerated nursing program and another $1.6 million for its accelerated social work program. The funds will go toward tuition assistance for Connecticut-based students who otherwise wouldn’t receive it. Money will also be used for recruiting and retaining faculty. This will allow more students to enter the healthcare workforce.

Chair of Southern’s Social Work Department Loida Reyes said this funding will create access to this program for students and help to serve marginalized communities.

Reyes said in an announcement, “For the first time, the social work program has been able to bring in 50% students of color, and we will be able to prepare around 100 social workers per year to rise up to the challenge. It’s exciting to have practitioners mirror the population they are serving.”

The chair of Southern’s School of Nursing, Maria Krol, will work alongside Reyes to implement the grant into their respective programs at Southern.

Krol said, “This grant will allow us to give financial assistance to students who are in need and in turn can go out into the field and better understand the patient population they are serving.”

Quinnipiac University’s grant of $3 million will allow the school to provide qualifying students in the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing and master of social work programs with $10,000 per year in tuition assistance. The goal is to increase the number and diversity of students enrolled in these programs.

Dean of Quinnipiac’s School of Health Sciences Janelle Chiasera said, “The need for mental health services skyrocketed during the pandemic, and an already alarming shortage of nurses is now at an all-time high, leaving our healthcare systems understaffed at a critical time.”

Provost Debra Liebowitz said the grant will also create a pipeline to patient care for Quinnipiac’s existing undergraduate health science and nursing students.

The University of Bridgeport announced  they received a grant award of $1.7 million from the CT Health Horizons initiative. The money will be used for student enrollment and faculty recruitment for UB’s accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (APSN) program.

Of the total award, $1.25 million will be used for scholarship awards for minority or low income students and the remaining funding will be used to hire two full-time and two part-time faculty members for the APSN program. 

Director of UB’s School of Nursing Linda Wagner said, “Its immediate impact will be to make the program accessible to students whose resources would otherwise have prevented them from entering the healthcare field. And by empowering UB to add to its outstanding faculty, the grant will continue to benefit future generations of nursing students and the communities in which they work.”

Fairfield University, another recipient of the grant, received $2.45 million, announced in December, for the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies.

The grant will provide tuition assistance to Connecticut-based students enrolled in Fairfield’s bachelor of science in nursing, psychiatric nursing practitioner, and masters in social work programs, as well as faculty recruitment and the launch of the Health Partners Scholars program.

Albertus Magnus College received $805,000 through the initiative. The funding will allow the school to jumpstart its nursing major planned for the 2024-2025 school year and fund the salaries, benefits and continued education for the nursing faculty.

Sacred Heart University and Yale are also receiving money through the grant. SHU will be the recipient of $2.59 million and Yale will receive $370,828 to address their nursing and social work programs. The schools have not yet commented on how the money will specifically be used.

Gateway will receive a portion of the $1.2 million awarded to community colleges, though the exact number has not yet been announced.

Contact Matt Verrilli at

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