(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Foundation is among seven higher education organizations in the West to receive grant funding from the Portland-based Cambia Health Foundation to increase diversity among students in health care programs and to expand outreach to potential health care students in underrepresented communities.
The Cambia Health Foundation is providing a two-year, $50,000 grant to the SOU Foundation for the “Southern Oregon Mental and Behavioral Health Pathways Initiative,” which will support training and increase the diversity of school and health care providers who offer behavioral supports for students.
About $35,000 will be used for scholarship assistance to paraprofessionals who complete professional development workshops at SOU as a first step toward the university’s “Foundations of School Mental and Behavioral Health” micro-credential. About $10,000 will be used to develop and teach additional workshops in the micro-credential program and about $5,000 will pay for marketing and communications expenses. Any unused portion of the course development or support money will revert to scholarship use.
“This micro-credential program represents an exciting new area of collaboration between SOU and our local K-12 and community partners,” said John King, director for education, health and leadership at SOU. “Together, we are pooling resources and expertise to train both current and new employees to better support the behavioral health needs of students throughout southern Oregon.”
The Cambia Health Foundation is donating a total of $320,000 to help fund seven higher education initiatives – through the SOU Foundation, University of Idaho Foundation, University of Utah Foundation, Utah Valley University Foundation, University of Washington Foundation, Eastern Washington University Foundation and Oregon Health & Science University in combination with Portland State University.
Cambia Health Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Cambia Health Solutions, a nonprofit health care company and the parent of various other companies including Regence, a member of the Northwest’s Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The foundation has funded more than $80 million in grants since 2007.
The current round of health equity grants are intended to help diversify the health care workforce and increase patient satisfaction, access to care and responsiveness to underserved populations.
“This regional health care workforce diversity initiative looks to break down the barriers of entry and completion of post-secondary health care education programs for minority and underrepresented students,” said Peggy Maguire, the president of Cambia Health Foundation. “Ultimately, our goal is to foster a diverse workforce that is culturally and linguistically representative of the communities it serves, to improve access to and quality of care while advancing health equity.”
SOU’s Foundations of School Mental and Behavioral Health micro-credential program is aimed at pre-kindergarten through high school teachers, classroom assistants and classified staff. The program, offered collaboratively with local K-12 school districts and community mental health agencies, prepares students to provide behavioral health assistance in a culturally appropriate and trauma-informed manner.