Lamar State College Port Arthur leading coalition seeking $70M federal grant, pledges $20M in cash match

Published 12:11 pm Monday, April 18, 2022

Lamar State College Port Arthur announced it is a finalist in the largest grant competition ever hosted by the United States Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provided $1.9 trillion dollars of relief to aid the United States in its recovery from COVID-19.

$1 billion dollars from this fund was allotted to the Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant to make awards of up to $100 million to address regional problems and to create economic growth.

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In December, a coalition of local educators and hospitals led by Lamar State College Port Arthur was chosen as one of 60 finalists out of more than 500 applications from across the United States.

LSCPA made application for a Phase 2 award on March 11. A final decision on this grant is expected in late July.

Members of the Coalition include Lamar University, Lamar State College Port Arthur, Lamar State College Orange, the Deep East Texas College and Career Academy, CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health Systems, Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas, The Southeast Texas Medical Center and Riceland Health Services.

The coalition includes every provider or nursing education and every major medical facility within a 5,000-square mile region of urban and rural Texas.

The Coalition proposed to address the devastating nursing shortage in southeast and deep east Texas by increasing program capacity among the colleges which offer nursing and pre-nursing training and by increasing clinical space for nurses at not-for-profit hospitals.  For-profit hospital partners will agree to make more nursing placements available and to open facilities not historically used for nursing clinical training.

The LSCPA-led coalition has asked for $70,000,000 in federal funds, pledged nearly $20,000,000 in matching funds in cash, pledged an additional $50,000,000 in salaries for new faculty members and nurses, and pledged and additional $100,000,000 in additional public and private capital if the grant is awarded.

In 2018, Texas Dept. of State Health Services found that the population of nurses in the Gulf Coast region needed to grow by 11 percent to meet demand.

The same report found that the population of nurses in Deep East Texas needed to grow by 33 percent. Now, hospitals report more than 700 vacant nursing positions; urban hospitals are 25-30 percent below staffing and rural hospitals struggle to open their doors.

In addition to building program capacity, the grant funds will be used to create new student recruitment programs designed to work with underserved populations, create a new pre-nursing tutoring program in partnership with the Region Five Education Service Center, create a tuition reimbursement program supported by the hospital partners, and create a counseling program for nursing entrepreneurship.

On March 23, LSCPA was contacted by the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development to see if the College would host the Deputy Assistant Secretary on a tour of its facilities and a round table discussion with its coalition members.

On Friday, Dr. Betty Reynard, president of Lamar State College Port Arthur, is Dennis Alvord, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development at a round table discussion at the Gates Memorial Library.