PORTLAND, Ore., May 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In recognition of the positive connection between education level and health, Kaiser Permanente Northwest (KPNW) has awarded more than a half million dollars ($527,000) in scholarships to 141 high school seniors and 25 college sophomores in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Students across 14 counties received scholarships in amounts of $2,000, $5,000 or $10,000.
The KPNW Health Care Career Scholarship Program is part of a larger Kaiser Permanente effort to improve community health by helping diverse and economically disadvantaged students pursue college and the health care professions. Seniors from 133 public high schools in Kaiser Permanente's service area, which spans from Longview, Washington, to Eugene, Oregon, were eligible to apply. College students eligible to apply were continuing Kaiser Scholars who originally received the scholarship as high school seniors.
"Since 2008, we've awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships because we know that the more educated people are, the healthier they are," said Tracy Dannen-Grace, director of community partnerships and philanthropy at Kaiser Permanente. "And when the health care workforce reflects the patients it serves, more people have access to better quality care, so it's a no-brainer for us to invest in this amazing group of young, diverse scholars who wish to enter health care careers."
Latino scholars on the rise
About three-quarters of all 2016 recipients are students of color, two-thirds are bilingual and two-thirds are first-generation college-bound students. More than a third of all recipients are from Latino backgrounds, reflecting both a national increase in Latino college enrollment rates and a trend of increased Latino scholarship applicants identified by Education Northwest in its September 2015 evaluation of the KPNW Health Care Career Scholarship Program. The evaluation also found that the scholarship positively impacts recipients' ability to afford college and their motivation to attend college.
"My only dream has been to be able to afford to go to college and become a nurse," said Jovita Basilio, Woodland High School (Southwest Washington), who this year received a scholarship for $10,000. "I believe that health care is a human right and no one should be denied it because they can't afford it; this scholarship will help me achieve my goal of providing care to those who need it most."
Three high schools shine
Roosevelt High School (Multnomah County) led the pack in scholarship funds received, with four students earning a total of $35,000 in Kaiser Permanente scholarships. Close behind were North Salem High School (Marion County), where six students earned $26,000, and Franklin High School (Multnomah County), where seven students earned $25,000.
Amy Divelbiss, health occupations teacher, and Cipriano Mañon Muñoz, migrant specialist, both of North Salem High School, also received "outstanding educator" awards for their role in facilitating student success. In their honor, Kaiser Permanente is donating $5,000 to North Salem High School.
Kaiser Scholars to be recognized at celebration
Recipients will be celebrated at a reception and ceremony at the OHSU Collaborative Life Sciences Building in Portland on Saturday, May 14, from 1-3:30 p.m. The event will feature a keynote from Nichole Maher, president and CEO of the Northwest Health Foundation; a career fair; tours of the OHSU Simulation Center; and a performance by the Comparsa Orgullo Morelense Cemiac Chinelos dancers.
Scholarships are part of a broader investment in education
The scholarships follow close on the heels of Kaiser Permanente's December 2015 investment of more than $100,000 in grants awarded to five community-based organizations supporting educational development along the Pre-K to 12th grade spectrum. Grantees included Adelante Mujeres Chicas Youth Development program; Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington's College Prep program; Concordia University's Full STEAM Ahead program (part of its "3 to PhD" initiative with Faubion School); Girls Inc.'s Eureka! and Girls Group programs; and I Have a Dream Oregon's Academic Intervention program.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and nonprofit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, including more than 540,000 medical and 250,000 dental members in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, dentists, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical and dental teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente