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ASU-Beebe Receives ALIGN Grant to Grow and Retain Nurses in State
Posted Date: 6/12/24

Arkansas State University-Beebe and Arkansas State University in Jonesboro nursing programs were together awarded a $2,598,396 grant from the Office of Skills Development (OSD) and the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses (ALIGN) program, to help attract, prepare and keep more nurses in the state.
“This grant money couldn’t have come at a better time for our programs. In providing more scholarships and equipment, we’ll be able to greatly enhance the educational opportunities for our student nurses,” Dr. Joseph Scott, ASU-Beebe dean of the Math and Science Division, said.
A-State and ASU-Beebe were among 19 Arkansas schools receiving the ALIGN grant. Each applicant proposed their own projects and equipment needs. ASU-Beebe partnered with A-State on the proposal, “Expanding the Arkansas Nursing Workforce: Recruit, Retain, and Reimagine (R3).” 
The ASU-Beebe nursing programs will receive a sub-award of $1.4 million matching in-kind donations from Unity Health, ARcare and The Crossing at Riverside.
“Over the last few years there has been a high demand on nursing programs to produce more graduates,” Dr. Cindy Smith, director of nursing, said. “Our programs have seen the impact of this demand. This grant will be used to produce more graduates, and ultimately assist our healthcare partners in meeting the needs of the nursing shortage.”
ASU-Beebe offers both practical nursing and registered nursing programs on the Heber Springs and Searcy campuses. The licensed practical nursing program on the Searcy campus is a full-time 11-month program and the Heber Springs campus offers a part-time 18-month program. The registered nursing program is a one-year accelerated training to prepare for the national licensure exam. All ASU-Beebe nursing programs are approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.
Additionally, the Searcy campus is in the process of expanding and renovating the Beulah Bloodworth nursing building in adding several classrooms and lab spaces to more closely replicate a hospital and medical clinic setting. The renovation is expected to be completed in the fall.
Below is the state Department of Commerce announcement:
Sanders, Commerce Department Announce $20M to Grow State's Nursing Pipeline
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 14, 2024) — On Monday, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Secretary Hugh McDonald, and Cody Waits, director of Arkansas Workforce Connection, announced more than $20 million in training grants to support the development of the nursing profession in Arkansas. Through the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses (ALIGN) Program, Arkansas Office of Skills Development (OSD) has awarded $20.4 million to 19 Arkansas two- and four-year colleges and universities. The ALIGN Program is designed to upskill nursing professionals, expand nursing apprenticeship programs, and increase nurse educator recruitment and retention. 
“As Governor, one of my biggest priorities is preparing young Arkansans for the careers of the future. Healthcare and nursing is one of our primary areas of focus,” said Governor Sanders. “The 19 2- and 4-year colleges and universities receiving grants today train some of the best nurses in America. Each of them will help us build Arkansas’ next generation of healthcare professionals.”
“Nurses play a critical role in delivering quality healthcare in our state. It is essential that we have qualified nursing professionals to meet Arkansans’ healthcare needs today and in the future,” said Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald. “Increasing educational opportunities and apprenticeships is vital for developing the nursing pipeline in Arkansas, and the ALIGN Program will provide funding to support the growth of our state’s nursing field.”
Public and private post-secondary educational institutions in Arkansas providing LPN, RN, and BSN degrees were eligible to apply for the ALIGN grant funding. All applicants were required to provide a healthcare partner contribution with a two-to-one match by the state for each dollar contributed by the healthcare partner.
Funding for the ALIGN grants is through the America Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Eligible funding usage includes professional upskilling, expanding nursing apprenticeship, increasing nurse educator recruitment and retention, expanding clinical rotations, increasing nursing program capacity, tuition reimbursement, equipment purchasing, stimulations centers, and expansion of labs.
All ALIGN award funding must be expended by December 31, 2026.
Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Commerce
Several from Arkansas State University and ASU-Beebe pose with Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (fourth from left), who made the announcement on Monday, May 13, that 19 nursing schools in Arkansas would receive ALIGN grant funds. Pictured, from left, are Cody Waits, director of Arkansas Workforce Connection, Hugh McDonald, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Commerce, Shane Broadway, ASU System vice president for university relations, Gov. Sanders, Dr. Sarah Davidson, ASU director of nursing, Dr. Jason Goodner, ASU-Beebe vice chancellor for academics, Dr. Cindy Smith, ASU-Beebe director of nursing and Dr. Joseph Scott, ASU-Beebe dean of the math and science division.

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