Recruiting Efforts Underway for Colorado Public Health Works, the Nation’s First Integrated AmeriCorps Apprenticeship Program Paving New Pathways into the Field of Public Health
Community Health Worker AmeriCorps Apprentices will support public health organizations across Colorado, addressing locally-identified needs and developing core competencies in public health
OCTOBER 1, 2022 – DENVER, COLORADO – Recruiting is underway for Colorado Public Health Works, a groundbreaking AmeriCorps Apprenticeship program lead by Trailhead Institute in partnership with Serve Colorado and local public health organizations across the state. Designed as part of the nation’s Public Health AmeriCorps program launched by AmeriCorps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado Public Health Works marks the first time AmeriCorps has integrated with a registered apprenticeship program and is paving new pathways into the field for Colorado’s next generation of public health leaders.
Through Colorado Public Health Works, AmeriCorps members will serve in urban, rural, and frontier communities throughout the state and many will simultaneously pursue certification as a Community Health Worker through a U.S. Department of Labor registered apprenticeship.
The program is intended for people ages 17-25, through which members will meet locally identified needs and statewide challenges through AmeriCorps service while increasing the capacity of local public health agencies. Members who simultaneously pursue a Community Health Worker apprenticeship will complete in-person, instructor-led, and online courses provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Patient Navigator Training Collaborative, alongside on-the-job training and mentorship from host sites as apprentices develop several core competencies needed within the public health profession.
“It’s time to intentionally restore the public health workforce and also support career pathways for entry-level leaders,” says Jennifer Edwards, PhD, Trailhead’s Director of Workforce Programs & Initiatives. “We look forward to the impact this program is going to have in local Colorado communities and toward developing the public health workforce.”
Activating Statewide Partnerships
Trailhead is taking a locally-based approach to addressing a statewide need to equip and restore Colorado’s public health workforce by partnering with public health organizations across Colorado to serve as host sites for the program. These partners include Alamosa County Public Health Department, Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials (CALPHO), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Colorado Health Institute (CHI), Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE), Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, Mesa County Public Health, Otero-Crowley County Health Department, Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, and Silver Thread Public Health District.
Addressing the Nation’s Need to Restore the Public Health Workforce
Recognizing that Colorado communities face unique health challenges, apprentice projects will vary by host site based on the organization’s Community Health Worker initiatives. The program is also actively addressing several needs for workforce growth and training identified in the 2021 PH WINS survey conducted by the de Beaumont Foundation and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Notably, nearly a third of state and local public health employees (32%) said they are considering leaving their organization in the next year, citing pay, work overload, burnout, and lack of opportunities for advancement as the three leading reasons for leaving. This highlights the need for our nation’s workforce to both expand and develop capacity building supports for local public health organization, serving dually as a growth and retention strategy.
The survey findings also identified community engagement; justice, equity, diversity and inclusion; policy engagement; and data-based decision-making as leading training needs among other key areas for HHS Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah) and HHS Region 7 (Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri). These needs are reflected within the core competencies of the Community Health Worker apprenticeship that aims to equip members with the skills they need to enter, thrive, and advance within the public health workforce.
Colorado Public Health Works is a part of Trailhead Institute Workforce Programs and Initiatives (WPI). The program builds upon several key milestones to support Colorado’s public health workforce at the onset and throughout the COVID-19 crisis. To learn more about WPI, visit https://trailhead.institute/workforce-programs-initiatives.
To learn more about Colorado Public Health Works, or inquire about becoming a AmeriCorps Apprentice, visit https://trailhead.institute/colorado-public-health-works-program.