Gianforte presents $440,000 for scholarships to Carroll College | Education

Governor Greg Gianforte visited Carroll College on Tuesday to present the college with $440,000 in scholarship grants.

According to Erik Rose, director of institutional research and strategy at Carroll, the scholarships will be awarded to qualified new students entering the school’s 15-month accelerated nursing program or master’s of social work program.

Rose said the funding will be allocated to 32 scholarships, 16 per program, at $12,500 each. This amounts to approximately $200,000 per program, with the remaining funds going to marketing the scholarships.

The funding came from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which aims to provide COVID-19 relief. Last week, Gianforte announced that $6 million in ARPA funding will be used as an investment in workforce development. The state awarded this grant to Accelerate Montana, a collaborative partnership led by the University of Montana at Missoula. Carroll College is a partner in the initiative, which aims to create training opportunities for Montana residents in sectors such as construction, health care, manufacturing and infrastructure.

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According to Rose, Carroll was on top of things when it came to applying for a grant.

“We were on the spot with a proposal,” Rose said. “We really enjoy participating in all newly launched academic opportunities.”

Carroll College nursing student Savannah Hoikkala shows Gov. Greg Gianforte the EL Wiegand Nursing Simulation Center on the Carroll College campus during a visit Tuesday.

THOM BRIDGE, Independent Disc

Gianforte said the leadership of people like Lauren Swant, associate professor and director of the nursing program at Carroll, and James Petrovich, professor and director of the master’s program in social work, is critically important to the state. of Montana, which suffers from significant labor shortages in both fields.

“For too long, Montana hasn’t lived up to its potential. I think that’s because there’s a long-standing disconnect between employers and educators,” Gianforte said. “I would love to see programs like Accelerate Montana reach every campus in different industries across the state.”

Gianforte said Accelerate Montana is expected to train up to 5,000 workers over the next few years, and he said he’s excited for Carroll to be part of the project to “give students the skills they’re looking for.”

When asked what other major industries need workforce development, Gianforte cited meetings he’s had with homebuilders who lack carpenters, electricians and more. The governor said he recently met with a Helena manufacturer who had 63 vacancies. Gianforte also cited his meetings with chefs in the restaurant industry who are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers for leadership positions and more.

According to Gianforte, the goal of projects like Accelerate Montana is to use the state’s educational institutions, public or private, to create industrial pipelines where workers are most needed.

Swant and Petrovich shared their own experiences with the need for workers in their respective fields. Petrovich said there is a perpetual need for mental health services across the state and there is a severe shortage of people qualified to provide those services. This is especially true in underserved areas. He said these scholarships are “absolutely going to make a difference”.

The Swant estate faces a nationwide shortage, and in Montana the estate is expected to lose about 570 nurses each year as many workers age into retirement.

“The workforce depends on highly trained nurses to function,” Swant said. “You have my heartfelt thanks for helping secure these scholarships.”

Carroll President John Cech said the $12,500 scholarship covers about a quarter of the tuition for the accelerated nursing program.

“It helps them get started a lot,” Cech said. “And nursing is a very competitive field right now when it comes to salaries. A lot of nurses are starting to make over $60,000 a year right now.”

Governor Greg Gianforte

Governor Greg Gianforte receives a tour of the EL Wiegand Nursing Simulation Center on the Carroll College campus on Tuesday.

THOM BRIDGE, Independent Disc

The Accelerated Nursing Program at Carroll takes those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree and puts them on the path to becoming a registered nurse in 15 months.

The Master of Social Work program takes approximately nine months for those who already have a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Cech said it takes about two years if the student has no social work background. The Master of Social Work program is relatively new to Carroll and offers both online and hybrid options.

“We have students from all over the state who are enrolled in the MSW program,” Cech said. “At Carroll, we want to be at the table to be part of the conversation with industry professionals to address these labor issues.”

Scholarships will be based on demonstrated financial need and will be awarded to students who intend to work in Montana after graduation. The scholarships are reserved for those entering the programs after Tuesday’s announcement.

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