Bakersfield College and California State University, Bakersfield have been awarded $6 million in federal grants to address disparities and improve community health through education, the institutions announced last week.
Each school will be receiving $3 million in Title V funding from the Department of Education.
Bakersfield College says they plan to leverage the funding to support existing efforts and to expand the health sciences pathways they offer for students, in order to “systematically strengthen Kern’s education-to-workforce pipeline while improving health outcomes for local residents.”
The community college, which serves Bakersfield and surrounding rural communities, currently offers seven Associates degrees and five certificates as part of their Health Sciences Pathways program, which include opportunities in nursing, kinesiology, health information technology, and public health.
“Bakersfield College has always had a focus of rising to meet the needs of our community by offering targeted programs which prepare students to be successful, while also giving back to the community we call home,” said BC President Sonya Christian.
She continued, “BC is proud to be a Hispanic serving institution, serving first-generation Hispanic students, and all who seek higher education. Our BC Renegades of today will be the game changers of education and public health of tomorrow.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that Kern County has among the lowest ratio of health professionals per 100,000 in population in the state and that the county consistently ranks low for overall health.
At CSUB, their School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering received the grant.
Funds from the grant will be used to develop a new major in public health, to add faculty positions, to develop and teach new courses, and to collaborate with Adventist Health Bakersfield in order to provide internship opportunities for students, according to CSUB’s website.
“The CSUB Bachelor’s in Public Health degree will create a pipeline of qualified professionals that will meet this critical need,” said CSUB Assistant Professor of Nursing Jane Yadon. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented need for a strong public health workforce.”
“Grants like this one from the Department of Education are game changers!,” said Dr. Kathleen Madden, Dean of NSME. “As NSME continues to grow and add new programs in order to meet the needs of our students and community, adequate funding is essential to putting our ideas into action.”
Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.