SMWC receives state grant to help prepare Hispanics for healthcare sector

October 24th, 2016 | SMWC

Skill UP grant award recipients
L-R: Brennan Randolph of SMWC, Monique Charlebois of the Morales Group, Margarita Hart of Esperanza Ministries, Natalia Rodriguez of Thomas P. Miller & Associates, Calvin Jordon of Ivy Tech Community College and Janet Clark of SMWC

A pioneer of distance education, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, in partnership with other agencies, has received $60,000 in state funds to provide online English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) training to 100 Hispanic participants of a program aiming to bridge the skills gap in Indiana’s healthcare industry.

Part of the second round of grants for Skill UP Indiana, Janet Clark, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and Brennan Randolph, vice president for enrollment, along with the other partnering organizations, received the award on Oct. 20 from the Department of Workforce Development in Indianapolis.

The College has joined the efforts led by the Morales Group, Esperanza Ministries and Thomas P. Miller & Associates to train more Hispanics for jobs as community health workers (CHW). One part of SMWC’s contribution will be to develop an online English-language immersion course, a valuable addition to face-to-face language training already being provided through the English Language Institute (ELI), which was launched last year.

The College started the ELI program as one strategy to diversify the College population and to expose the campus community to global opportunities. Enhancing student experience through international opportunities is part of the College’s strategic plan.

SMWC has more than 40 years of experience in distance learning formats.

“With our proven track record for delivering quality distance education programs, the addition of an online English language immersion course is a natural expansion for us,” Clark said. She is excited about this opportunity for the College to pilot an online language immersion course.

With the help of other partners including the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Indiana Community Health Worker Association, HealthVisions Midwest and Ivy Tech Community College, 100 Hispanic participants from five counties with the highest unemployment rate for Latinos will take The Woods’ online course while being trained, certified, and placed in CHW positions in both healthcare and manufacturing settings, according to the grant. Participants will be at varying levels of English language proficiency and the online format will allow them to work with some flexibility.

“We are very excited to be a partner of this initiative,” Clark said. “With the help of this grant, we are able to further serve our neighbors by helping them succeed at work and in life.”

The program will run next year in Marion, Lake, Allen, Tippecanoe, and Clark counties.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development provided $11 million during the first round of Skill UP Indiana grants, which were given to initiatives that will help equip Hoosiers with the skills necessary to fill the one million jobs projected to be available over the next 10 years. Around $9 million in funds were available during the second round.

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