Summer 2023


Back to E-News

Summer 2023 Issue

Announcing 2023 Healthcare Workforce Development grantees

Telligen Community Initiative is proud to announce 13 recipients of our 2023 Healthcare Workforce Development grants.

Healthcare Workforce Development grants totaled $894,639 this year.

Selected projects seek to reverse the ongoing workforce shortages in health care, compounded by an aging population and lingering effects of the pandemic.

Since 2014, TCI has funded more than $15.9 million in community-based support to over 370 projects in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma.

It was heartening to see the innovation and equity-focused strategies that our grantees are using to tackle this problem from a variety of vantage points. Interestingly, our grantees’ projects fell within four categories:


The Southwestern Area Health Education Center (CO) provides primary care training to Native American paraprofessionals so they can better serve diverse communities. The staff at CommunityHealth (IL) serve low-income uninsured Chicagoans, many of whom are immigrants and non-native English speakers. The Pathways to Success Program at Erie Neighborhood House (IL) prepares low-income and immigrant adults for health care careers. A study by the University of Iowa School of Social Work seeks to understand peer and employer challenges in diverse communities in Iowa.


CPC Community Health (CO) will develop a mental health curriculum for Community Health Workers to help address health inequities and advance this important career. The Maria Droste Counseling Center (CO) will further its behavioral health workforce development program, which creatively supports providers throughout their careers. Iowa CareGivers will collaborate with partners to pilot a structured self-care program for and reduce burnout among Direct Care Workers.


The Center for Speech & Language Disorders (IL) will offer a paid summer internship to BIPOC aspiring speech-language pathologists to gain experience for graduate school entry. OAI, Inc. (IL) prepares Black and Latinx health care professionals to advance in their careers. The Promise Community Health Center (IA) will help licensed therapists from underrepresented backgrounds advance and achieve independent licensure, increasing therapy access for high-risk patients.


Oklahoma Christian University will add staff for its online course that allows health care workers in low-level jobs to work on a nursing degree while employed. The OU Foundation (OK) will help the OU College of Nursing Student Success Center provide interventions for students to help them successfully transition from formation to practice. The University of Tulsa (OK) seeks to expand Students Reaching Excellence Through Collaboration with Higher Ed (STRETCHED), which sparks high-schoolers' interest in health care careers.

View the full list of 2023 Healthcare Workforce grantees, including more information about each project, on TCI’s website. Their work will inspire you – and maybe even spark similar initiatives at your organization!

Round Two

TCI is currently in the process of reviewing applications for the Strengthening Families & Communities (Social Determinants of Health) grants. By our mid-June deadline, we received 308 applications for this grant cycle.

The profound community needs within all four states highlight the transformative work that nonprofits and community coalitions are doing in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma. We expect to announce Cycle 2 grantees in November.

See the breakdown of applicants by state and sub-priority here.

Grantee Spotlight:

Improving youth mental health in rural Iowa

Rural areas are experiencing shortages of mental health professionals. More and more students are reporting mental health issues, especially following the pandemic. Schools are strapped for resources. That’s where the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and Telligen Community Initiative come in.

UNI received a $47,567 TCI grant last fall to pilot a telehealth therapy program for students in southeast Iowa. The grant has helped provide 360-degree smart cameras that improve efficiency in group telehealth therapy sessions, pivoting around the room to capture key emotions and dialogue related to each student’s well-being.

The program has already seen incredible success: 87.5% of students reported decreases in mental health symptoms, and 63% saw increases in pro-social skills.

“These data show that students are learning vital skills to be able to work through their mental health symptoms and become resilient,” said Nicole Skaar, associate professor and school psychology program coordinator in educational psychology, foundations, and leadership studies at UNI.

This grant has benefited all involved in the process, from youth to researchers.

“Everyone gets something out of it,” Skaar said. “Our UNI graduate students get practice in providing group psychotherapy, and the students in southeast Iowa, as well as their teachers and families, get access to these services that are more difficult to access in rural communities.”

UNI graduate students receive unique hands-on learning opportunities that many don’t receive until they are working their first job. The TCI grant also helps pay graduate students so they can participate in this crucial learning process.

“They all learn therapy skills in our classes, but the big hurdle is practicing these skills in a real setting,” Skaar said. “They wouldn’t have these experiences otherwise, and it has been a great opportunity for these students to practice with our faculty’s supervision.”

Without valuable data from projects like this one, Skaar says it would be difficult to continue their research and serve even more people.

“TCI aims to support projects that find innovative ways to fill gaps in health services and inequities," said Matt McGarvey, executive director of TCI. “Success stories like the telehealth therapy program at UNI are what drive our ongoing work. This type of project simultaneously advances data for health solutions, creates mental health access, and allows future clinicians to get supervised experience."

With data already painting a picture of improved mental health and more accessible resources, UNI’s work will continue to have ripple effects throughout Iowa and beyond, changing lives even after the project concludes.

“The work that TCI is doing to improve physical and mental health care has an immediate impact on those involved, but also goes beyond the present project and results in future projects and bigger influence that cannot always be seen immediately,” Skaar said. “The ripple effects get wider, and this results in serving a larger portion of the state and potentially the nation.”

Nicole Skaar
Back to E-News

Have Questions?

Read Our FAQ Page