Workforce innovation grant provided to help in health care, education, and the economy

Grant from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is projected to help workforce shortages in rural communities

Bridget Maxwell

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During a Dec. 14 press conference on campus, Governor Tony Evers announced the award given to UW-Eau Claire through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Workforce Innovation Grant program. The university will receive a three-year stipend of $9.4 million to help strengthen the rural community in health care, education and business. 

Dr. Mike Carney, Assistant Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships and Program Development, met with Dr. Carmen Manning, Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences to develop a proposal. 

UW-Eau Claire’s ties with Mayo Clinic Health System helped with receiving the grant, Carney said. 

Courtney Dayland, third-year nursing student and treasurer of the Eau Claire Student Nurses Association said the grant is immensely beneficial for students in the healthcare realm.

The Mayo Clinic and UW-Eau Claire partnership will include the development of new degree programs and careers in high demand health care fields.

Workplace shortages of nurses, teachers and social workers in rural communities are affecting not just our campus but the entire community, according to Dayland.

“Nursing students, such as myself, are given the chance to get more hands-on experience with those leading our healthcare system,” Dayland said. 

COVID-19 has negatively impacted businesses and the health care system for the past two years. There has been a significant spike in the need for nurses, teachers and social workers across the nation. 

Small businesses have also experienced significant losses, whether that be going out of business or the inability to keep customers. This grant will ensure future stability and progress within our community, according to a UW-Eau Claire article. 

UW-Eau Claire’s Workforce Innovation Grant project includes detailed initiatives to help combat challenges in northwestern Wisconsin. 

“For future teachers, social workers and nurses, UW-Eau Claire is developing a network for students participating in placements to share their experiences and have support within the program,” Carney said. 

Initiatives are being taken to increase the amount of graduating nursing students each year, from 48 per year to 144 by 2025. Those initiatives include providing tuition support to 10 nurse educators to pursue master’s degrees, and will serve as clinical faculty to the college of nursing. 

600 students in internships or teaching placements will receive tuition support and contribute to the recruitment and retention of teachers, according to a UW-Eau Claire article.

Mckenna Wohlers fourth-year special and elementary education student said she thinks teaching tends to be looked down upon, so providing opportunities like this will help push future teachers to keep going.

There are plans to innovate health care delivery by training “care coaches.” They have been put in place to help guide patients outside of the hospital, according to a UW-Eau Claire article. 

UW-Eau Claire will also be creating an “innovation certificate” that will utilize interns as part of the business program to work with hundreds of small businesses and startups. 

According to Evers, this grant addresses the needs of Northwestern Wisconsin and will help shape the future of UW-Eau Claire. 


Maxwell can be reached at [email protected].