APU awarded grant to strengthen and diversify Alaska’s nursing workforce

Grant to benefit the Alaska Nursing Expansion Initiative, focusing on rural and Alaska Native participants.

Alaska Pacific University (APU) has been awarded a $2,999,913 grant by the U.S. Department of Labor to support the diversification and expansion of the nursing profession in Alaska through the Alaska Nursing Expansion Initiative. Paid over a five-year period, the grant aims to address the workforce needs of the Tribal Health system and other rural healthcare providers, ultimately promoting better health outcomes in underserved communities.

“We are very thankful to the Department of Labor for this grant to support the Alaska Nursing Expansion Initiative through the APU nursing programs,” said Marianne Murray, Director and Professor of Nursing at Alaska Pacific University. “With the strategic support and intentional collaboration of our Alaskan healthcare industry partners, we hope to significantly increase nurses in Alaska that are able to provide culturally safe care to fellow Alaskans.”

APU offers the only fully accredited Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program in the state, maintaining partnerships with community organizations like Foundation Health Partners and Denali Center in Fairbanks, and Yuut Elitnaurviat and the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel. The program plans to expand to Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, and Juneau within the following year.

“Receiving this grant is a tremendous opportunity for Alaska Pacific University to further grow our nursing programs; particularly in rural and Alaska Native communities,” said APU President Janelle Vanasse. “Teaching culturally safe health care is such an integral part of our nursing program’s curriculum, and we’ve seen the positive impact it’s had firsthand. This funding will enable us to equip our nursing workforce with the knowledge, skills, and cultural competence necessary to provide high-quality care that’s inclusive to all Alaskans.”

The recently awarded grant is part of a larger initiative by the Department of Labor, which has provided more than $78 million in grant funding to support workforce training programs in 17 states, targeting staffing challenges faced by nursing professionals in the care economy. APU is among 25 public-private partnerships across the United States to receive funding through the Nursing Expansion Grant Program.