For information, or to schedule an interview, contact:
Marcia Spector, Executive Director - Seeds of Health, Inc.
Partnership with Independence First Provides Grandview Students Access to Careers in Healthcare
MILWAUKEE (May 19, 2021) Grandview High School is one of four schools operated by Seeds of Health, Inc. It is unique to the Seeds of Health network of schools as it is structured as an alternative Milwaukee Public School formed under the “Children at Risk Law” and serves some of Milwaukee’s most disadvantaged youth. Many of these students struggle to complete their high school diplomas and even after attaining their diplomas, find it difficult to find employment.
Independence First (IF) is a non-profit 501c3 Independent Living Center directed and controlled by persons with disabilities, primarily serving the four-county metropolitan Milwaukee area. With a mission to effectively facilitate the empowerment of individuals with disabilities through the core services of Advocacy, Independent Living Skills, Information and Referral, Peer Support and Transition, they offer over 20 different programs and services for people with disabilities of all kinds.
With the demand for healthcare workers rising and the number of trained healthcare providers in short supply, Grandview presented a perfect partnership opportunity to help IF meet their growing healthcare worker needs while providing Grandview students a unique opportunity to explore careers in the healthcare industry.
The 12-week program started on March 18, 2021, with 15 Grandview students in attendance. It is being offered at no charge to Grandview in its pilot year and is taught by Registered Nurses on staff at IF. Each 90-minute class covers all 15 topics required for students to receive a certificate as a Primary Care Worker (PCW). PCW is one step below a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Classes include helping IF clients with self-care activities such as dressing, showering, getting out of bed, and other activities of daily living. To become certified, all students completing the coursework are required to complete a skills demonstration assessed by IF RNs.
Once certified, all students can then be employed by IF and after working for IF for one year will become eligible for tuition reimbursement should they decide to pursue higher levels of healthcare careers, such as obtaining a CNA certificate or becoming an RN. Students under age 16 can only care for eligible family members living in the same home. Students completing the program who decide a career in the healthcare industry is not a good fit for them may be able to find other career opportunities at Independence First.
Grandview High School Principal Debi Harry is thrilled to offer the program to students, “We are super excited with the possibilities this brings to our students who are exploring careers in the healthcare field.”
One Grandview High School student who took advantage of this program is Crystal Torres. Crystal says, “My mom is a two-time cancer survivor, and now she has a tumor. We don't have anyone else around so caring for my mom falls on me. With training I know I am providing correct and informed care.” Torres chose PCW because she wanted to help people, especially her mom. Torres juggles a lot as a high school student and caretaker for her mom, but she doesn’t let her full load get her down. “I have to do it - my mom's health and happiness depends on me. I keep positive and happy because it helps her.” Torres added, “I also want to help other people who are in need of healthcare and deserve good care. PCW means a job right out of school and a chance to grow in this career. I want people to know that you can go through so many challenges and still be a graduate at this moment. You can still be successful!”
And this is just the start of things to come if the pilot program works out well. According to Deb Langham, Chief Operating Officer at IF, discussions are already underway to offer classes to parents and other family members of Grandview students and possibly use this program as a template for a statewide or national program to strengthen communities and build a pipeline of trained healthcare workers to meet the growing demand.
Marci Boucher, CEO of IF says, "This is an exciting program to create opportunity for an underserved population that often has a high drop-out rate and impaired access to meaningful employment. I welcomed the first class of students recently, and I see the promise of a future that includes rising through the healthcare industry for each young person in the program."
This year, due to COVID, students will attend the first 10 classes virtually. The last two classes will be held at IF. During their time at IF, students will tour the facilities, meet IF staff, and do their skills demonstrations.
About Seeds of Health, Inc.
Founded in 1983, Seeds of Health, Inc. is the only K4-12 charter school agency in the state of Wisconsin serving approximately 1,300 students in three high schools with a total of four locations and a K4-8 elementary program. The individual and unique education programs at each Seeds of Health school serve a broad range of student needs - from at-risk to the college bound. Seeds of Health is Milwaukee's innovative "home grown" answer to imaginative, collaborative, and cutting-edge education options, with the vision to positively impact the growth and development of urban children. Tenor High School, a program of Seeds of Health, is a high performing charter school authorized by the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM). For more information, please visit www.seedsofhealth.org.