Sanders, Commerce Department Announce $20M to Grow State’s Nursing Pipeline

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On Monday, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Secretary Hugh McDonald, and Cody Waits, Director of Arkansas Workforce Connection, announced more than $20 million in training grants to support the development of the nursing profession in Arkansas. Through the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses (ALIGN) Program, Arkansas Office of Skills Development (OSD) has awarded $20.4 million to 19 Arkansas two- and four-year colleges and universities. The ALIGN Program is designed to upskill nursing professionals, expand nursing apprenticeship programs, and increase nurse educator recruitment and retention.

“As Governor, one of my biggest priorities is preparing young Arkansans for the careers of the future. Healthcare and nursing is one of our primary areas of focus,” said Governor Sanders. “The 19 2- and 4-year colleges and universities receiving grants today train some of the best nurses in America. Each of them will help us build Arkansas’ next generation of healthcare professionals.”

“Nurses play a critical role in delivering quality healthcare in our state. It is essential that we have qualified nursing professionals to meet Arkansans’ healthcare needs today and in the future,” said Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald. “Increasing educational opportunities and apprenticeships is vital for developing the nursing pipeline in Arkansas, and the ALIGN Program will provide funding to support the growth of our state’s nursing field.”

Public and private post-secondary educational institutions in Arkansas providing LPN, RN, and BSN degrees were eligible to apply for the ALIGN grant funding. All applicants were required to provide a healthcare partner contribution with a two-to-one match by the state for each dollar contributed by the healthcare partner.

Funding for the ALIGN grants is through the America Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Eligible funding usage includes professional upskilling, expanding nursing apprenticeship, increasing nurse educator recruitment and retention, expanding clinical rotations, increasing nursing program capacity, tuition reimbursement, equipment purchasing, stimulations centers, and expansion of labs.

All ALIGN award funding must be expended by December 31, 2026.

ALIGN Funding Awards


Award Amount

Arkansas State University $2,598,396.00
ASU – Mountain Home $625,175.00
Arkansas Tech University $327,208.00
Baptist Health Foundation $1,944,608.00
Henderson State University $761,200.00
Jefferson Hospital Association $420,800.00
John Brown University $328,250.00
NorthWest Arkansas Community College $2,110,901.58
Ouachita Baptist University $487,000.00
Philander Smith University $396,857.13
University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing $1,198,353.00


University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) $368,614.26


University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) $2,024,546.00


University of Arkansas – Fort Smith $2,033,375.00
University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Nursing $969,200.00
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences $1,679,566.07
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff $1,004,000.00
University of Arkansas Rich Mountain $645,850.00
University of Central Arkansas School of Nursing $476,100.00


Heather Pedersen

Heather Pedersen (125)

“Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.” -C.S. Lewis