Alvernia Awarded $550,000 Federal Grant to Support Disadvantaged Students


Alvernia University has been named one of only three institutions in the state to receive a 2016 competitive federal grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The $550,000 grant is renewable for four years and would potentially provide $2.2 million during the life of the award, allowing the university to offer more than 30 new scholarships to disadvantaged students who wish to pursue a career in nursing.

The award, when fully executed over four years, will be the largest federal grant received by the university.

“This expanded funding confirms Alvernia’s position as a regional leader in healthcare education,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn, Ph.D. “Our innovative programming is aimed at preparing healthcare professionals to administer important, culturally competent patient care, across multiple community and acute care settings.”

Funding from the federal HRSA Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students Program is effective immediately, and will help provide financial resources to recruit and retain disadvantaged students, and support their progression — through completion of a nursing degree and into employment in underserved communities.

The grant funding will allow new scholarships at Alvernia for disadvantaged students interested in pursuing a career in nursing. “All healthcare is local and personal,” said Karen Thacker, Ph.D., RN, CNE, professor of nursing at Alvernia and dean of professional programs. “If we don’t deliver care that integrates our patients’ preference and value-systems with evidence-based practice, our efforts are minimalized in the long run.

“The central goal of these scholarships is to support a diverse student body to move through and graduate from our baccalaureate nursing program and provide professional nursing care in medically underserved communities.”

Flynn added that the new support will also help Alvernia advance its commitment to disadvantaged students in the City of Reading, in part through its Reading Collegiate Scholars Program. “Like the students who will benefit from the new nursing grants, our hope is that students in the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program continue to thrive, graduate from college, and become successful professionals and committed servant-leaders in the community.”

Alvernia University’s nursing program has graduated more than 1,000 alumni in the past 40 years, with a unique Franciscan mission that emphasizes respect for the dignity of all human beings and the call to serve others. More than 400 nursing students were enrolled at the university in 2014, and among last year’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates, 22% are now employed in primary care, and 71% serve in medically underserved communities.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number T08HP30170, and title “Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students” for $550,000 a year, from 2016-2019. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.

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