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RFU, Lake Forest College Share $1 Million Grainger Foundation Grant for Nursing Pathway Program

Lake Forest College and RFU have received a $1 million gift from The Grainger Foundation to support scholarships for the novel Nursing Education to Workforce (NEW) Pathway Program. The multi-year scholarships provide transformational opportunities for eligible students from underserved areas in Lake County, who want to return post-graduation to their local communities to practice.

“We’re responding to a tremendous community need with a bold vision supported by strategic partners who share our desire to address inequities in our region,” said RFU President and CEO Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM. “Together, we’re expanding access to education to graduate highly-trained nurses whose understanding of the communities they serve can help build trust in health care and lead improvements in patient outcomes and quality of care.”

At least 10 recipients will receive an annual scholarship up to $20,000 over the course of the accelerated 3+2-year program, in which students earn a bachelor’s degree from Lake Forest College in a non-nursing field and a Master of Science in Nursing for Entry into Nursing Practice degree from RFU. 

“This new scholarship program will increase educational attainment for local students and help build a nursing workforce that, ultimately, will improve the overall health and wellness of Lake County,” said Lake Forest College President Jill M. Baren, MD. “The need for high-quality education provided in the student’s local environment is urgent.”

Data from Lake County Partners, which is focused on economic development in Lake County, shows that 300 nursing positions went unfilled in the county before 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and an aging workforce are accelerating that shortage.

Sandra Larson, PhD, CRNA, APRN, FAANA, FNAP, founding dean of RFU’s College of Nursing, said today’s nursing workforce requires knowledge in ten domains of nursing practice, including healthcare information systems and technologies, established and emerging principles of quality and safety, as well as knowledge from other disciplines.

“Entering nursing practice with a master of science in nursing and a strong foundation in the liberal arts sets new nurses up for success,” she said.

The donation from The Grainger Foundation — which is based in Lake Forest, near both schools — recognizes innovative community partnerships that tackle complex issues of health equity, nursing education and workforce barriers.

“It is with pleasure that we support Lake Forest College and Rosalind Franklin University’s efforts regarding this unique and important program addressing the critical healthcare needs of Lake County and our surrounding communities,” said J. L. Howard, chairman of The Grainger Foundation.

Scholarship recipients must be residents of Lake County and eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. In addition, the Nursing Pathways Scholarship Program recipients must have a desire and commitment to pursue a career in nursing and return to the community to practice. For more information, visit the Nursing Pathways Program pages at and

Posted March 9, 2023
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