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Methodist College receives $1.5 million federal grant

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Methodist College-Unity Point Health has received a $1.5 million federal grant that will make more scholarships available to students with financial needs, are ethnic or racial minorities or first generation students, the college announced Thursday.

The purpose of the grant, which will be administered over for years, is to get more nurses into medically underserved communities, of which Peoria is one, Methodist College President Dr. Kimberly Johnson said at a news conference.

The grant is from the Health Resources Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Recipients of the scholarships will receive $7,700 each of four years to cover expenses not met by other aid, such as Pell or MAP grants.

Also on Thursday, the college announced that the Unity Point Health – Methodist/Proctor Foundation Board of Directors approved funding that will be used by the college to hire a program coordinator and to bring in a cultural competence expert to meet with the scholarship winners and Methodist College faculty to learn to “effectively work within the cultural context of a client,” the college said.

“We are thrilled to be selected to receive this grant that will relieve the financial burden for some of our current and future students,” Johnson said. “In addition, this grant will allow us to establish additional programs that will help support these students and ensure success in their nursing education.”

Chief among those programs is the new RISE Scholars program established for the scholarship recipients. RISE stands for Reaching for Innovation, Success and Empowerment. The goal of the program is to increase enrollment and retention of full-time Bachelor of Science in Nursing students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Johnson said that fits with the Methodist College mission.

To receive one of the RISE scholarships, the student must agree to participate in 90 percent of the RISE program activities, which include tutoring and mentoring sessions, workshops or additional learning activities, said Dr. Deborah Garrison, vice president of academic affairs at Methodist College who headed up the team that applied for the grant.

RISE participants who choose to live in the Methodist College student housing complex also will receive funding to help with that because, Garrison said, the college wants to create a living and learning community of RISE scholars with a resident facilitator who can tutor and provide support.

Garrison said many hours were spent by the grant writing team to make the application one that would be noticed, including developing the bones for the RISE program to be included with the application. “We knew we certainly have the right demographics for this but we wanted to make our program get noticed. We want our students to be successful,” she said.

It will not be required of RISE scholars to work in medically underserved communities after graduation, Johnson said. “But that is our goal because it is so important. Peoria is a medically underserved community and most of our graduates stay here,” she said.

Applications for the scholarships are being accepted now for use in the spring term. For more information visit

The federal grant will be spread out over four years, with $326,335 available the first year and $390,000 each year after that. The college will recruit a cohort of 20 students who mus demonstrate a financial need, be a member of an ethnic or racial minority or be a first generation student. They also must be in good academic standing and be a full-time student.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).