In a significant victory for healthcare education in Illinois, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) has announced the award of $1.4 million in grants to 12 nursing schools across the state for the fiscal year 2024. This funding boost is a direct result of the tireless advocacy efforts of the ANA-Illinois, which played a pivotal role in securing increased budget allocations from Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration, with the backing of the General Assembly. This year’s grant amount has nearly doubled compared to the previous fiscal year, reflecting a growing recognition of the critical need to expand the nursing workforce in response to healthcare demands.

IBHE’s Executive Director, Ginger Ostro, emphasized the grants’ role in preparing nursing students for a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, highlighting the increased visibility of nurses’ essential work in recent times. These grants aim to address and close equity gaps in nursing education, ensuring that underrepresented students have better access to, and success in, nursing programs. Funding will support a range of enhancements in nursing education, including the hiring of additional faculty and staff, development of new instructional programs, expansion of academic support services, and upgrades to classroom and lab facilities.

The selection process for these grants was highly competitive, requiring institutions to provide detailed data on student outcomes over several years and demonstrate how the funds would be utilized to improve equity and success in their nursing programs. This initiative is part of a broader strategic effort by the IBHE to meet the goals of the higher education strategic plan, focusing on equitable access and success in postsecondary education.

The impact of these grants will be far-reaching, helping to meet the critical healthcare workforce needs in Illinois by increasing the number of well-prepared registered professional nurses. It marks a significant investment in the future of healthcare and underscores the power of advocacy and partnership in advancing the quality and accessibility of nursing education in the state.