New $15,000 Grant to SRJC HOPE Program

Healthcare Foundation And Medtronic Award $15,000 Grant To Boost Local Healthcare Worker Pipeline

Money will create 15-30 scholarships at local junior college

June 15, 2021 – The Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County (HCF) has awarded a $15,000 grant to support an innovative program at a local college designed to train bilingual healthcare workers for the future. The grant, made possible by a $10,000 charitable contribution from Medtronic Santa Rosa, will support the 85-student Health Occupation Preparation Education (HOPE) program at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa.

HOPE Program Coordinator Daisy Cardenas said the grant will enable SRJC to provide 15-30 scholarships for books and living expenses to HOPE students, easing the burden of pursuing a degree in the medical field. She noted that to this point, the program only has had funding to award two scholarships per year.

“This will change everything for students,” said Cardenas, who noted that many HOPE students are the first in their families to attend college. “One of our biggest needs is financial support.”

The HOPE program is designed for low-income students with visible or invisible disabilities pursuing degrees in the medical field. HOPE provides students with career counseling, assistance with applying for scholarships, a study center where students can receive support from staff, and more. On occasion, Cardenas and her staff also organize field trips to four-year colleges, and arrange for mentors within the medical community.

HOPE also fulfills what has become a dire need for local bilingual/bicultural medical providers: 90 percent of students from the program go on to work at clinics and hospitals in Sonoma County.

Kim Bender, executive director of HCF, said HOPE directly aligns with the Foundation’s missions of supporting underserved communities and improving access to local bilingual/bicultural healthcare.

“The Healthcare Foundation’s vision is to eliminate health inequities in northern Sonoma County,” Bender said. “Our work is focused on providing access to quality healthcare, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, income or health status. Our commitment to health equity includes education, and strengthening and diversifying the workforce of medical and mental health professionals. We’re grateful to Medtronic for this timely support.”

The contribution to the HOPE program isn’t the first time the Healthcare Foundation has gotten involved with supporting local mental health initiatives. In 2018, the Healthcare Foundation launched the innovative Mental Health Talent Pipeline project, which aims to provide scholarships to bilingual/bicultural students in approved master’s-level programs, along with stipends to help them overcome the financial stress of getting professional hours, licenses, and their first jobs in Sonoma County.

Cardenas said the grant would be converted into 15-30 scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000. Previously, HOPE awarded two $500 scholarships each year.

During the pandemic, HOPE staff distributed surveys asking students what the program could do to make their lives easier. Cardenas noted that an overwhelming number of respondents indicated they needed financial aid. With scholarship money from the Healthcare Foundation’s Medtronic grant, HOPE students will be able to purchase books and technology, pay for WiFi to access the Internet from home, or offset living expenses.

About Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County

The Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County’s mission is to connect people and resources to promote wellness in underserved communities. We do this by supporting nonprofits in the areas of access to healthcare and mental healthcare, with a vision of eliminating health inequities in our region. The organization’s values center on equity, community and compassion. Founded in 2001, the Healthcare Foundation has invested more than $26 million to build a healthier region for all who live, work and play here.

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Media Contact: Kim Bender

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