CT launches Health Horizons program

CT Health Horizons Grant to University of Bridgeport Enhances Nursing Education Partnerships

New career pathways and scholarships designed to address shortages in state workforce

The CT Health Horizons initiative is making an impact on the critical statewide workforce shortage by allocating $30.5 million to partner colleges and universities to expand faculty, provide tuition support for students, and create strategic partnerships. The three-year, $35 million initiative is a partnership between the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), the state’s Office of Workforce Strategy (OWS), the University of Connecticut (UConn), the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC), multiple state agencies, and Connecticut Hospital Association. CT Health Horizons is also a collaboration between higher education institutions and healthcare provider partners to grow and diversify the next generation of nurses.

An award of $1,723,199 was made to University of Bridgeport (UB) via OWS to enroll students and recruit additional faculty for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. Of the award, $1,250,000 will be used for scholarships. Designed to provide support for minority or low-income students, guidelines include having a home address in an Alliance School District, meeting criteria for federal Pell grant eligibility, and other considerations. Hardship requests can be submitted if students do not meet standard criteria. The remaining grant funds will be used to hire two full-time and two part-time faculty members for the ABSN program.

“This incredible support will have a lasting effect on our ABSN program and its students,” offered Linda Wagner, Director of UB’s School of Nursing. “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.”

“This collaboration is the first of its kind and a model for how we can work together in the future,” said CSCU president, Terrence Cheng. “Over the course of three years, CT Health Horizons will provide or leverage tuition support and increase the diversity of students entering nursing and social work education. The program will also expand the number of faculty positions to enroll and graduate additional students and create innovative programs with healthcare providers and higher education institutions to build sustainable education and career pathways.”

Approximately $30.5 million has been allocated to partner colleges and universities to support nursing and social work students and programs. Funding for this initiative was distributed through a competitive but collaborative process building on the strengths of different colleges and universities and ensuring all communities are impacted in the state.

“The CT Health Horizons grant program is an innovative and impactful investment of state resources to rapidly expand the nursing and social work talent pipeline,” said Jennifer Widness, president of CCIC, of which UB is a member. “[Our] member institutions are so grateful to have the opportunity to participate in this program which leverages public and private dollars, promotes diversity and incentivizes employer partnerships to train and retain individuals in high-demand fields that are facing significant shortages.”