M State awarded $4.2 million labor department grant

March 3, 2023

Funds will go toward equitable access training and career pathway programs to help meet healthcare needs

Minnesota State Community and Technical College, or M State, has been awarded a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand equitable access to training for good-paying jobs in key regional industries, particularly healthcare.

M State’s award was announced Feb. 17 as part of the labor department’s third round of Strengthening Community Colleges grant awards, which total $50 million to help 15 community colleges in 14 states. Combined with the first and second rounds of these awards, announced in 2021 and 2022, $135 million has been invested in the nation’s community college system.

The 2023 grants are intended to increase educational and economic opportunities for people in underrepresented communities, with colleges using the funds to design and align accelerated learning pathways in response to their local labor market needs.

Plans for M State’s grant award, titled “Pathways to Accelerated Training in Healthcare-Minnesota,” or PATH-MN, include:

  • Building a regional healthcare professionals pipeline that connects students to M State.
  • Modernizing and upgrading simulation equipment.
  • Implementing a student success program to increase persistence and completion in healthcare programs.
  • Closing equity gaps in healthcare programs.
  • Implementing a professional development program to provide systemic improvements for historically underrepresented students.

M State is working on these plans in partnership with Central Lakes College in Brainerd, in order to support students throughout the entire region. M State’s four campuses are in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena.

“This is such exciting news for M State, our healthcare programs and partners, and our region,” said M State President Carrie Brimhall. “The PATH-MN grant award will help us expand our education and training opportunities to meet the needs of our region’s students, workers and employers.”

Ken Kompelien, Dean for the School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing at M State, added, “This initiative will be a transformative time for our health sciences programs and will provide cutting-edge tools and activities to equip our students for career success for many years to come!”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January that full-time college graduates earn almost twice as much per week as workers with high school diplomas. Yet a lack of access to education and training can hinder career pathways and worsen economic disparities for people in underrepresented communities.

“Community colleges offer accessibility and affordability that make them great options for people in marginalized and underrepresented communities to learn the skills needed to succeed in the workforce,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in a press release from the labor department. Walsh added that the grant awards represent a federal “commitment to investing in education programs that connect people to quality jobs, and create a more inclusive and equitable workforce.”

A member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities, M State serves more than 6,500 students in credit courses each year in over 70 career and liberal arts programs online and in-person at its campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena. The college also partners with communities to provide workforce development services and other responsive training programs to 500 businesses and 9,000 participants.