National Jobs Initiative Awards Grants to Eight Projects to Help Frontline Workers Upgrade Skills and Advance Career Opportunities

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded $3.5 million in grants to projects in eight states to help advance the careers of frontline health care workers by providing training to build skills, increase earning potential and improve the quality of care and services that patients receive. The grants are part of Jobs to Careers: Promoting Work-Based Learning for Quality Care, a national initiative that supports a variety of projects to develop the skills of workers who deliver direct health care and services. Workers who may benefit include medical assistants, health educators, laboratory technicians, home health aides, substance abuse counselors and dietary aides.

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A stable and skilled health workforce can lead to better quality of care and services

Princeton, NJ (Vocus) February 29, 2008

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded $3.5 million in grants to projects in eight states to help advance the careers of frontline health care workers by providing training to build skills, increase earning potential and improve the quality of care and services that patients receive.

The grants are part of Jobs to Careers: Promoting Work-Based Learning for Quality Care, a national initiative that supports a variety of projects to develop the skills of workers who deliver direct health care and services. Workers who may benefit include medical assistants, health educators, laboratory technicians, home health aides, substance abuse counselors and dietary aides.

Across the United States, 4.7 million frontline health care workers provide patients and clients with preventive and early intervention services, chronic illness management strategies, and long-term and post-hospitalization rehabilitative care. Despite their critical and expanding role in delivering health care, these workers earn less than $40,000 per year on average and have limited opportunities to build skills or advance professionally.

This is the second round of grants under Jobs to Careers, a four-year, $15.8 million national initiative of RWJF, in collaboration with the Hitachi Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor. The program encourages partnerships among employers, educational institutions and other organizations to improve training and advancement opportunities for their frontline workers. The partnership organizations are working to implement long-term systems changes and test new models of work-based learning -- an approach to adult education that emphasizes the employee as learner, and the work process itself as a source of learning. Boston-based Jobs for the Future (JFF) serves as the Jobs to Careers national program office.

“A stable and skilled health workforce can lead to better quality of care and services,” said Sallie Petrucci George, RWJF program officer. “Currently, advancement and development opportunities for frontline workers are sporadic. That’s why Jobs to Careers supports the development of these types of systems – to ensure that these programs are readily accessible for all frontline workers.”

“Along with the strong partnerships, work-based learning is the cornerstone of this initiative,” said Barbara Dyer, president and CEO of the Hitachi Foundation. “It holds promise to be an invaluable tool to help workers learn how to solve real problems on the job and to help employers figure out the best strategies to train future workers so they can succeed in jobs with better pay and increased responsibilities.”

The eight projects (see list below) represent diverse settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community and behavioral health centers in cities and remote villages. The new grants bring the total number of Jobs to Careers projects to seventeen.

“Well-trained, well-paid workers are key to supplying us the quality of service we need as the demand for health services increases,” said Maria Flynn of JFF and director of the national program office for Jobs to Careers. “These are the people who offer day-to-day personal care and relief to hospital patients, make it possible for many of the elderly to continue living in their homes, staff the laboratories that are essential to quality health care and help our addicted recover—yet on average they don’t earn enough to support their own families.”

A full list of all grantees and project descriptions and further information about the initiative are available at http://www.jobs2careers.org.
Capital Workforce Partners - Hartford, CT
Alex Johnson, 860-522-1111, x 221, ajohnson @ capitalworkforce.org

This project will create a certified nursing assistant career advancement program in four long-term care facilities in the Greater Hartford Area, with expected expansion to additional facilities thereafter.

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center - New York, NY
Betty Cheng, 718-886-1212, bcheng @ cbwchc.org
Arthur Cusack, 212-226-8866, acusack @ cbwchc.org
Located in Chinatown, NYC, this project will upgrade the skills of patient service representatives and medical assistants.

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center - East Boston, MA
David Ball, 617-548-7809, david @ ballcg.com
Liliana Silva, 617-566-4709, silval @ ebnhc.org
This project will train and provide an employer-recognized credential to aides, clerical associates and medical assistants as medical interpreters at New England’s largest community health center.

Humility of Mary Health Partners - Youngstown, OH
R. Ann Fitzgerald, 330-480-2690, r_ann_fitzgerald @ hmis.org
This project will support frontline workers in environmental, laundry and dietary services as they transition into entry-level clinical positions as monitor technicians, health care assistants and unit clerks.

Mississippi Hospital Association Health, Research & Education Foundation - Madison, MS
Debbie Logan, 601-954-0757, dlogan @ monw.org
This project will train and advance nurse assistants, dietary, housekeeping and transportation workers into unit clerk positions at Central Mississippi Medical Center.

Tenderloin Health - San Francisco, CA
Brian Co, 415-220-4553    , brian.co @ tlhealth.org
This project will train consumer-employees as frontline community health workers and provide a statewide credential. It also will offer HIV counselor/phlebotomist certification training.

University of Alaska-Fairbanks - Fairbanks, AK
Larry Roberts, 907-455-2056, larry.roberts @ uaf.edu
This project will provide a four-stage career path for frontline behavioral health counselors serving Native-Alaskan villages in rural Alaska.

Virginia Mason Foundation - Seattle, WA
Marnee Iseman, 206-223-8863, admmpi @ vmmc.org
This project will increase the number and quality of medical assistants at the Virginia Mason Medical Center.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. http://www.rwjf.org

The Hitachi Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based foundation established to enhance the well-being of economically isolated people in the United States. The Foundation systematically invests in path-breaking practices for use by business and nonprofit organizations to mutually address community problems. These practices alleviate conditions that perpetuate poverty and also help to strengthen business. http://www.hitachifoundation.org

Jobs for the Future is a Boston-based non-profit that seeks to accelerate the educational and economic advancement of youth and adults struggling in today’s economy. JFF partners with leaders in education, business, government and communities around the nation to: strengthen opportunities for youth to succeed in postsecondary learning and high-skill careers; increase opportunities for low-income individuals to move into family-supporting careers; and meet the growing economic demand for knowledgeable and skilled workers. JFF serves as the national program office for Jobs to Careers: Promoting Work-Based Learning for Quality Care. http://www.jff.org

For more information, contact:
Gina Ivey
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
ivey @ rwjf.org
609-627-5937

Mark Popovich
The Hitachi Foundation
mpopovich @ hitachifoundtion.org
202-828-7643

Jayme Rubenstein
Jobs for the Future
jrubenstein @ jff.org
617-728-4446

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