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IPHA and National Center for Rural Health Professions awarded $3 million grant for community health worker program

The Illinois Public Health Association, in partnership with the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford’s National Center for Rural Health Professions, received a $3 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to establish the Illinois Community Health Worker HelpGuideThrive Program. This statewide initiative will recruit and equip community health workers for employment in a broad array of health care settings with a focus on providing public health services in rural and underserved communities.

Community health workers are on the frontlines of public health as trusted members of the communities they serve, allowing them to connect people to health and social services in a culturally competent way for quality service delivery. They often conduct activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy, according to Hana Hinkle, PhD, director of the National Center for Rural Health Professions.

The three-year Illinois Community Health Worker HelpGuideThrive Program aims to:

  • Align community health worker training curricula with the national core curriculum;
  • Enroll at least 240 diverse individuals from rural or medically underserved areas in general community health worker training, extended specialty training, or registered apprenticeships;
  • Provide stipends to eligible trainees;
  • Offer regular continuing education opportunities; and
  • Provide workforce readiness training, field placements and employment placement services.

“Community health workers are an integral part of our health care system,” said Tom Hughes, IPHA executive director. “Vast disparities and inequities plague our health care system, and, as the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted, these disparities have heavily impacted our rural and underserved communities. IPHA looks forward to working with our statewide partners to develop a pipeline of community health workers equipped to serve these communities.”