Cass Lake-Bena High School earns state nursing assistant grant

The school earned a $5,000 grant to help with equipment and materials for nursing assistant training.

Stock image / Courtesy of Pixnio.

CASS LAKE — Cass Lake-Bena High School is one of 24 high schools across the state to earn a Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative grant from Minnesota State.

The money will help districts purchase or improve lab equipment and materials necessary for nursing assistant training. Cass Lake-Bena received a grant for $5,000.

“These grants will help connect high school students throughout the state to job training for an in-demand career,” said Dennis Olson, Minnesota Office of Higher Education commissioner, in a news release. “When we announced the Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative, we issued a call for Minnesotans to take a stand and support the health of our state. The response is truly overwhelming. This initiative is providing Minnesotans with a free pathway into the health care field and creating a model for how we can fill job vacancies in other high-need careers.”

According to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, nursing assistants are the sixth most in-demand job in the state. This need was exacerbated during the pandemic, leading Gov. Tim Walz to deploy 400 National Guard members to support Minnesota’s long-term care facilities and veterans’ homes in 2021.

Walz then set a goal for the state to recruit and train 1,000 new nursing assistants, with the state launching the Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative in January 2022. The initiative provides Minnesotans with free nursing assistant training, as well as covering the cost of books, uniform and certification exams. To date, 2,306 Minnesotans have completed, or are in the process of completing, their training, which is more than double the governor’s initial goal. Training for the initiative is offered through Minnesota State campuses, private providers and in high schools.


“The Next Generation Nursing Assistant has been a great initiative, and we are very proud to be a part of it,” stated Devinder Malhotra, Minnesota State chancellor, in the release. “With the results the program is showing, it is clearly making a difference — both now in terms of meeting an immediate need for certified nursing assistants in the workforce, as well as in the future as these high school students continue their training and launch careers in nursing.”

The initiative was first made possible through federal American Recovery Plan funds. The state then invested an additional $2.4 million in COVID-19 Management Appropriation funding to continue the program.

While current funding for the program ends this month, Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan proposed to continue the initiative in their budget. This budget recommendation would provide $3 million each biennium in ongoing funding to ensure hospitals, long-term care facilities and veterans homes have the staff they need to care for patients and residents, the release stated.

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