UACCM Awarded $2 Million ALIGN Grant to Boost Nursing Education

 

UACCM Vice Chancellor for Academics Dr. Richard Counts; UACCM Chancellor Lisa Willenberg; President of Baptist Health Medical Center Conway April Bennett; and UACCM Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Darrell Moore.


The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) has been awarded a grant of $2,024,546 from the state Commerce Department’s Office of Skills Development as part of the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses (ALIGN) program. The grant was announced during a Monday press conference by Gov. Sarah Sanders, Ark. Dept. of Commerce Secretary Hugh McDonald, and Director of Ark. Workforce Connection Cody Waits.

UACCM is one of 19 two-year and four-year Arkansas schools selected for the ALIGN grant and will utilize the funds in a variety of ways to expand nursing programs at UACCM, including equipment and furnishings for the college’s new Nursing and Science Center.

“The proceeds of the grant will provide for state-of-the-art simulation and healthcare equipment, faculty recruitment and retention funds, scholarships, and ultimately an increased capacity of approximately 100 additional nursing completers annually,” said UACCM Chancellor Lisa Willenberg.

Public and private post-secondary educational institutions in Arkansas providing LPN, RN, and BSN degrees were eligible to apply for the ALIGN grant funding. All applicants were required to provide a healthcare partner contribution with a two-to-one match by the state for each dollar contributed by the healthcare partner.

Baptist Health Medical Center - Conway, Conway Regional Medical Center, St. Mary’s Regional Health System, Ozark Health, Chamber’s Memorial Hospital, Johnson County Regional Medical Center, and Superior Health and Rehab all supported and assisted in UACCM’s application for the ALIGN grant.

“When this grant opportunity presented itself, coordination with our key clinical partners who have made significant contributions to UACCM nursing students via scholarships, clinical opportunities, and healthcare equipment, made our application possible,” said Willenberg.

She continued, “Each of those partners quickly assisted with application data as well as support letters. This grant is a great reminder of the importance of regional partnerships.”

The Nursing and Science Center, which will have its groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 24, will be a two-story, 36,000 square-foot facility featuring seven science labs and classrooms, ten nursing labs, and classrooms, and two student lounges.

The ALIGN Program is designed to upskill nursing professionals, expand nursing apprenticeship programs, and increase nurse educator recruitment and retention. Funding for the ALIGN grant is through the American Rescue Plan of 2021.

The full news release from the state Department of Commerce follows: 


Sanders, Commerce Department Announce $20M to Grow State’s Nursing Pipeline

LITTLE ROCK – On Monday,GovernorSarah Huckabee Sanders, Secretary Hugh McDonald, and Cody Waits, Director of Arkansas Workforce Connection, announced more than $20 million in training grants to support the development of the nursing profession in Arkansas. Through the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses (ALIGN) Program, Arkansas Office of Skills Development (OSD) has awarded $20.4 million to 19 Arkansas two- and four-year colleges and universities. The ALIGN Program is designed to upskill nursing professionals, expand nursing apprenticeship programs, and increase nurse educator recruitment and retention. 

“As Governor, one of my biggest priorities is preparing young Arkansans for the careers of the future. Healthcare and nursing is one of our primary areas of focus,” said Governor Sanders. “The 19 2- and 4-year colleges and universities receiving grants today train some of the best nurses in America. Each of them will help us build Arkansas’ next generation of healthcare professionals.”

“Nurses play a critical role in delivering quality healthcare in our state. It is essential that we have qualified nursing professionals to meet Arkansans’ healthcare needs today and in the future,” said Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald. “Increasing educational opportunities and apprenticeships is vital for developing the nursing pipeline in Arkansas, and the ALIGN Program will provide funding to support the growth of our state’s nursing field.”

Public and private post-secondary educational institutions in Arkansas providing LPN, RN, and BSN degrees were eligible to apply for the ALIGN grant funding. All applicants were required to provide a healthcare partner contribution with a two-to-one match by the state for each dollar contributed by the healthcare partner. 

Funding for the ALIGN grants is through the America Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Eligible funding usage includes professional upskilling, expanding nursing apprenticeship, increasing nurse educator recruitment and retention, expanding clinical rotations, increasing nursing program capacity, tuition reimbursement, equipment purchasing, stimulations centers, and expansion of labs. 

All ALIGN award funding must be expended by December 31, 2026.

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