donation of 2.5 million from the Financier foundation to fund nursing scholarships in Duquesne | News, Sports, Jobs
The news broke during National Nurses Week and it was mind-blowing.
While six- and seven-figure gifts to colleges aren’t unheard of, many of them come with strings attached. Often, money must be allocated for endowed chairs, laboratories or buildings.
The $2.5 million award Duquesne University School of Nursing received from the Bedford Falls Foundation is a striking variation on the theme. At the request of the foundation, the award will be used for nursing scholarships for 160 students over the next five years.
“It’s something special. Nursing doesn’t get the same recognition or gifts that programs for doctors or lawyers do,” said Mary Ellen Glasgow, dean of the Duquesne School of Nursing.
The scholarships — $15,000 each — will be for students in the Accelerated Second Career Program starting this fall.
Washington, D.C. financier Bill Conway and his wife, Joanne, started the foundation named after the legendary town in the classic Jimmy Stewart movie “It’s a wonderful life” in 2012 with the goal of donating $1 billion. At the time, Conway, founder of the Carlyle Group, told the Washington Post that he and his wife decided to focus on nursing scholarships to help low-income people get into a career. career in a field where jobs are abundant.
Since then, the foundation has distributed millions of scholarships to nursing programs at a number of colleges, including the University of Maryland, Villanova, Johns Hopkins, University of Virginia, and Catholic University, among others.
Glasgow was delighted to learn that the foundation was adding Duquesne to its list of beneficiaries. The news broke last month during National Nurses Week.
The notification was the culmination of a process that began when she received an email from the foundation asking her to complete a survey. This was followed by a zoom meeting, an RFP and finally a site visit.
The award comes as hospitals and nursing homes struggle to hire nurses. The combination of an aging workforce, early retirements and pandemic-spurred career changes has exacerbated the existing shortage of registered nurses.
Aid-strapped hospitals have turned to a number of strategies to fill vital positions, including paying a bonus to traveling nurses, sourcing international nurses, offering recruitment and retention bonuses and the cancellation of loans.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers acknowledged the crisis, providing $225 million to recruit and retain nurses and setting aside $15 million that nurses practicing here could tap up to $7,500 in debt forgiveness student. State officials said the fund was depleted almost as soon as it opened.
Duquesne’s Second Career Program – one of many local colleges – can prepare committed students to take the nursing license exam in 12 to 16 months. It enrolls about 80 students a year in the program which offers those who already have a four-year degree the opportunity to pursue a second degree in nursing.
Glasgow said graduates of the Second Career program did well in licensing board exams.
And while this is a way to get nurses into the field and into the workforce fairly quickly, the program costs $59,000. Additionally, the intense demands of the program make part-time work impossible, Glasgow said.
She said Duquesne, which gives $10,000 in financial aid to students in the program, plans to distribute the Bedford Falls scholarship to 32 needy students from an annual grant of $500,000 during each of the next five years. Glasgow said $20,000 would be set aside each year for emergency costs and advice.
“We have already passed the word to the incoming class and asked them to fill out a form to apply. These scholarships will make a difference,” said Glasgow.
Deb Erdley is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter.