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Bloomberg Philanthropies launches healthcare-focused high schools in 10 urban, rural communities

The schools will collectively serve nearly 6,000 students at full capacity.
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Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $250 million initiative to create new national high schools that will graduate students directly into high-demand healthcare jobs with family sustaining wages.

This first-of-its kind initiative pairs public education systems and hospitals in 10 communities including Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Durham, N.C.; Houston; Nashville, Tenn.; New York; and Philadelphia. Rural areas include Demopolis, Ala. and Northeast Tenn. (six locations). The schools will collectively serve nearly 6,000 students at full capacity.

Each school, whether newly established through this initiative or a revamp of an existing school, will offer students robust academic programming, specialized healthcare classes, work-based learning at the partner health system and the opportunity to earn industry-valued credentials and certifications. Immediately upon graduation, students can enter healthcare jobs within the partner healthcare system or choose to advance their healthcare career through post-secondary education. As part of this initiative, all health system partners have committed to providing job opportunities for students who successfully complete the graduation requirements of their respective programs.

“For too long, our education system has failed to prepare students for good jobs in high-growth industries,” said Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. and 108th mayor of New York City. “By combining classroom learning with hands-on experience, these specialized healthcare high schools will prepare students for careers with opportunities for growth and advancement. America needs more healthcare workers, and we need a stronger, larger middle-class — and this is a way to help accomplish both goals.”

[Read more: Healing the healthcare system]

Currently, there are an estimated 2 million open healthcare industry jobs and an additional 2 million expected by 2031 (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022 and 2023). These healthcare jobs provide a clear path to economic mobility and are resilient to automation or outsourcing – and many do not require a four-year degree.

The inaugural partnerships between leading health and education systems around the country will be:

Boston:

  • Healthcare Partner – Mass General Brigham
  • Education Partner – Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers (Horace Mann charter schools, Boston Public Schools)

Charlotte, N.C.:

  • Healthcare Partner – Atrium Health
  • Education Partner – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Dallas:

  • Healthcare Partner – Baylor Scott & White Health
  • Education Partner – Uplift Education

Durham, N.C.:

  • Healthcare Partner – Duke Health
  • Education Partner – Durham Public Schools

Houston:

  • Healthcare Partner – Memorial Hermann Health System
  • Education Partner – Aldine Independent School District

Nashville, Tenn.:

  • Healthcare Partners – HCA Healthcare TriStar, Vanderbilt Health, Ascension, National HealthCare Corporation
  • Education Partner – Nurses Middle College

Northeast Tenn.:

  • Healthcare Partner – Ballad Health
  • Education Partner – Northeast TN Public Schools (six sites)

New York:

  • Healthcare Partner – Northwell Health
  • Education Partner – New York City Public Schools

Philadelphia:

  • Healthcare Partner – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Education Partner – Mastery Schools

Demopolis, Ala.:

  • Healthcare Partners – University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System and other state health systems and hospitals
  • Education Partner – State of Alabama (contingent upon state funding)

[Read more: Here’s to our local heroes: America’s pharmacists]

Each school will provide traditional academic programming, as well as specialized healthcare classes co-taught by health system employees using co-designed curriculum. Northeast Tennessee will use a hybrid virtual and in-person program across six school sites in rural communities. Students also will engage in immersive work-based learning at the partner healthcare system. In ninth and tenth grades, students will participate in job-shadowing and practice their skills in simulation labs; starting in eleventh grade, students will have access to paid healthcare internships and professional mentoring, among other work-based learning experiences. Schools in Boston, Charlotte, Dallas and Houston will open in 2024, while the rest will open through 2026.

All students will have the opportunity to earn industry-valued credentials, certifications and college credits while in high school, enabling students to graduate with the choice of going straight into work at the partner health system and/or continuing their education – full or part-time – to enhance their preparation for an attractive healthcare career. If they choose to go directly into work, hospital partners have committed to subsidizing the tuition for students’ ongoing part-time or full-time education. Examples of jobs that students will be prepared to enter upon graduation include surgical technologist ($56,000 median starting salary), radiology technician ($65,000 median starting salary), or respiratory therapist ($71,000 median starting salary). (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022)

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ investment will support school start-up costs including personnel needs and classroom and lab renovations. Additionally, this investment will support healthcare-specific work-based learning costs such as developing specialized curricula, lab materials and equipment and stipends for work-based learning. Successful programs launched from this initiative have potential to scale across the nation and serve as sustainable, long-term models for how to address gaps in education and workforce development.

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