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Exploring New Pathways in Public Health Through AmeriCorps & Apprenticeship Programs

We are excited to announce that Trailhead has received a $60,000 planning grant to develop an AmeriCorps program that will focus on the Corporation of National and Community Service’s (CNCS) focus area of Disaster Response. This AmeriCorps planning grant will explore how to bridge Americorps and registered apprenticeship programs in Colorado with the aim of expanding opportunities and pathways into the field of public health that focus not only on short-term needs and responding to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, but also address the long-term need for a for a public health workforce that more closely resembles the communities it serves. 

Building On the Efforts of the Colorado Public Health Workforce Collaborative

In April of 2020, Trailhead convened a partnership of organizations from Colorado’s public health, academic and workforce sectors to form the Colorado Public Health Workforce Collaborative (CPHWC). While initial efforts of CPHWC focused on supporting the scaling of the state’s disease containment workforce, the collaborative’s mission has evolved its focus to addressing structural supports and systems change needed within the state’s public health sector in order to ensure Colorado has an experienced, diverse, ample, inclusive, and innovative workforce to address public health challenges for years to come. 

Over the past 18 months , CPHWC has spearheaded several initiatives that include training contact tracers, case investigators and resource coordinators; assessing gaps in data and resources needed to support Colorado’s public health workers; and conducted a statewide analysis to evaluate current messaging strategies among local public health agencies. More recently in early 2021, CPHWC partnered with the State of Colorado through the Colorado Workforce Development Council to design and create a public health career pathway, similar to other sectors with high-demand jobs in the state. This has led to the development of a Public Health Community Health Worker/Patient Navigator Apprenticeship Program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) and sponsored by Trailhead, set to begin in fall 2021. This registered apprenticeship will both create economic opportunities and build communication and intervention strategies aligned with communities most at risk while recognizing that community health workers can play a unique role in filling the growing need for an ample and inclusive public health workforce. 

This need for a sustained, highly-skilled and community-based public health workforce is reinforced by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis which has exacerbated persistent health disparities among communities of color in Colorado and across the nation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native; Black or African American; Asian; Hispanic or Latino have suffered higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death in Colorado due to COVID-19, with hospitalizations almost 3x as likely as for White identified individuals. In addition, factors such as socioeconomic status; household composition; and housing and transportation, play a significant role in the risk of poor health outcomes from Covid-19 (CDC). With this at the forefront of our attention, exploring practices and structures that ensure investments made to expand Colorado’s public health workforce yield a workforce that reflects the communities they serve will be a central focus of Trailhead and CPHWC partners engaged in the AmeriCorps Planning Grant. 

Exploring Integration with AmeriCorps 

Building on the momentum of establishing Colorado’s first Public Health Community Health Worker / Patient Navigator Apprenticeship, the AmeriCorps Planning Grant will be used to identify how this registered apprenticeship and AmeriCorps might work together to strategically support Colorado’s public health workforce. Over the next 8 months, Trailhead and CPHWC partners will document and explore the intersection of registered apprenticeship and AmeriCorps, including:

  • training and educational opportunities for AmeriCorps members through apprenticeship
  • translation of an AmeriCorps opportunity into college credit
  • planning at the bridge between high school, college, AmeriCorps and apprenticeship to better understand the transition points and create a seamless system for members and employers
  • assess potential nontraditional workforce partners
  • develop communication strategies that are built to recruit employers and public health partners to participate in both workforce development opportunities

The planning grant will culminate with the development of a toolkit on how to engage with a joint AmeriCorps and Apprenticeship program for employers and interested individuals as well as the delivery of a Theory of Change, Logic Model and evidence for application for a joint AmeriCorps and Apprenticeship opportunity through Trailhead or other identified partners.

Our Partners in this Work 

Our partners/advisors in this endeavor include: The State of Colorado Office of Apprenticeship; the Colorado Workforce Development Center; Colorado Department of Labor and Employment; Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Colorado Department of Higher Education; Serve Colorado; Colorado Department of Education; CareerWise Colorado; Colorado Community College System; and Patient Navigator Training Collaborative. Partners will also include current AmeriCorps sites and current apprentice employers as potential test sites.

Mark Your Calendars: December 7th is Colorado Gives Day

Launching in 2010, Colorado Gives Day has grown to one of the largest giving days in the US, raising more than $50 million in 24 hours in 2020 for Colorado nonprofits. This annual statewide movement of giving helps donors give to the causes they care about most in the places they live.

As a nonprofit public health institute, our mission is to advance innovation and collaboration in public health. Your donation to Trailhead supports our capacity to lead initiatives that identify and address fundamental health needs, advance health equity, engage with communities through administrative partnership and strategic program development and advocate for policies and funding that enable public health entities and communities across Colorado to thrive.

To make a donation to Trailhead or one of our many community partners, visit our Colorado Gives donation page.

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