ST. PAUL – Minnesota State and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) have been jointly recognized by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) with the Exceptional Agency Award for strong partnerships implementing grant programs that eliminate financial barriers, expand access to postsecondary education, and strengthen the workforce pipeline. The award was presented in conjunction with the SHEEO 67th Annual Meeting held in Boston. This marks the first time that SHEEO has presented an award jointly to two organizations.
The strong partnership between OHE and Minnesota State plays a critical role in expanding access to postsecondary education for Minnesotans and strengthening the workforce pipeline. Minnesota State often takes a lead role in implementing new grant programs that break down financial barriers for students. Recent successful partnerships include the Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative and the Minnesota Future Together grants, programs made possible by an investment of American Recovery Plan funds.
For the Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative, OHE sought to address staffing shortages in the healthcare field and meet a goal set by Governor Tim Walz to recruit and train 1,000 new nursing assistants. After securing a $3.5 million investment in January 2022, Minnesota State took on the process of setting up training programs, and within three months, 1,300 Minnesotans were recruited and trained as nursing assistants. Prior to this initiative, Minnesota State had stepped up to train 400 National Guard members as nursing assistants. These National Guard members were deployed throughout the state to serve in veterans’ homes and long-term care facilities. The Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative has become a new model for how the state can address staffing shortages in high-need career areas.
The Minnesota Future Together grants are a two-year grant program that covers the cost of tuition and fees for students pursuing a credential in high-need careers such as education, business, industry and technology, healthcare, STEM, and public service. Minnesota State partnered closely on the initial rollout of the grant, devoting countless hours of staff time and resources in promoting the grant and identifying eligible students. As a result, 1,485 Minnesota State students saw the full cost of their tuition covered in the spring 2022 semester.
These examples are two of the many ways the partnership between OHE and Minnesota State is benefiting Minnesotans and making a direct impact on the State’s educational attainment goal of having 70% of Minnesotans, ages 25-44, complete a credential by 2025.
"I am honored that the work we do to offer equitable access to higher education for all Minnesotans while serving as the state’s workforce engine has received this distinction from SHEEO," said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State. "The guidance, counsel, and partnership we receive from OHE and Commissioner Olson help us increase the effectiveness and impact of our work. On behalf of the 14,000 employees of Minnesota State, thank you for this honor."
"I appreciate the close working partnership OHE has with Minnesota State," said Dennis Olson, OHE commissioner. “This recognition is the result of critical investments in higher education made under Governor Tim Walz, as well as the incredible leadership of Chancellor Malhotra at Minnesota State. Our office can always rely on Minnesota State to step up at a moment’s notice to help spearhead new initiatives and grant programs. Together, we are working to support the whole student, from providing transportation and housing assistance to mental health supports to grants and scholarships that make it possible for anyone to enroll in postsecondary education. To have this work, and specifically our partnership, honored in this way is very humbling. Thank you for this recognition.”
"Both the Office of Higher Education and Minnesota State are incredible assets to our state," Governor Tim Walz said. "From the state grant to innovative grant programs, OHE’s work is breaking down financial barriers while also building the workforce pipeline necessary for Minnesota to thrive. Minnesota State is a vital partner in this work, offering a variety of credentials throughout the state. I am grateful to Commissioner Olson and Chancellor Malhotra for their leadership, and I look forward to collaborating with them to support the next generation of Minnesota’s workforce."