Creating pathways to health careers for students of color

Davenport University is joining forces with the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute and six other West Michigan educational institutions to help create academic pathways for students of color within the healthcare field.

In November 2017, GRAAHI was awarded an 18-month planning grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation totaling $394,745. GRAAHI and Kellogg Foundation have partnered with Aquinas College, Calvin College, Davenport University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Ferris University and Grand Rapids Community College.

“West Michigan is becoming more diverse. What isn’t changing is the diversity in the faces at patients’ bedsides,” said Karen Daley, dean of DU’s College of Health Professions. “With the help of this grant, we will increase the number of students of color in the health professions within West Michigan.”

In collaboration, the institutions will seek to increase diversity of students and faculty, provide resources based on best practices, construct programs to facilitate upward movement of students into health professions, reevaluate admission process to remove barriers academically and financially, and guarantee employment for under-represented minorities.

Once a plan is clearly outlined, GRAAHI and the collaborating institutions will apply to the Kellogg Foundation for an implementation grant, Daley said. Davenport will receive a portion of this funding for programmatic and student financial aid purposes toward the common goals.

“Currently we are identifying data-based trends and examining current practices for recruitment and retention of racial and ethnic minority students,” Daley said. “With this grant, Davenport University will create opportunities for early immersion in the health professions to give students the perspective that they can get into these high-paying, stable careers.”

As of 2017-18, 27 percent of DU’s College of Health Professions students are of color. In West Michigan, only 18 percent of health professions students are people of color.

“Davenport University’s College of Health Professions is prepared to meet the demands of producing a healthcare workforce across all ethnicities and cultures,” said Richard Pappas, president of Davenport University. “This grant aligns with our Vision 2020 and we are committed to leveling the playing field for students and helping them successfully enter careers in the health professions.”

Davenport’s Vision 2020 calls for the university to develop initiatives “to address the needs of racial and ethnic minority groups.” It also expresses the central belief that Davenport’s graduates will “exceed employer expectation, transform communities and change lives by believing that every person can achieve his or her dream.”


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