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Mayor Sarno and CDO Sheehan Announce Partnership with Local Colleges as part of $750,000 Higher Education ARPA Fund

|   City News

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Chief Development Officer (CDO) Tim Sheehan joined with representatives from American International College (AIC), Springfield College, and Western New England University (WNEU) to announce the partnership with the local colleges as part of the Sarno Administration’s Higher Education ARPA Fund at City Hall on Wednesday, December 6th.

Mayor Sarno had previously announced the creation of the $750,000 Higher Education ARPA Fund as part of his 13th round of ARPA awards back in July 2023.  This special fund is a first of its kind grant initiative that will focus on helping to support Springfield students financially so that they can pursue their continued education at one of the partner colleges in the city that applied to this competitive grant with an emphasis in the fields of mental health, health care, education, and public safety.  

AIC, Springfield College and WNEU all submitted successful grant applications and will partner with the city to support community programming and Springfield based student support addressing much-needed career fields that were associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Below is the breakdown of the grant awards.


American International College:  $270,000

The grant application proposes the creation of the Guided Readiness Opportunities for the Workforce and You (GROW – You) program for Springfield resident students.  The program seeks to create accelerated pathways in many professions that were frontline during the pandemic such as health, education and public safety.  The program is intended to serve as a critical intervention to continue to ensure that the Springfield workforce pipeline in these critical fields remains sufficient to meet the ongoing demand.  The program focuses on the retention of both BIPOC and low-income students in these fields of study.


Springfield College:  $240,000

The grant application addresses the mental health needs that significantly expanded on college campuses and the lack of resources to keep up with the increasing demand.  The application puts forward an approach to mental health services that seeks to leverage provider partnerships and institutional resources among area colleges as a means of better serving the collective student population.  The application further expands the mental health services provided by the Springfield Public Schools by leveraging existing institutional resources such as graduate student interns in the fields of counseling, social work, psychology.


Western New England University:  $240,000 

The grant proposal is focused on the Mental Health First Aid program which teaches individuals the skills to effectively assist someone who appears to be experiencing mental health or substance abuse challenges or crisis.   WNEU seeks to have a minimum of 35% of campus trained in MHFA in the next three years.  The proposal would add more trainers on campus and to get those trained to complete the certification process to become trainers in the youth and teen MHFA program.  Additionally, the University seeks to have the campus trainers bring the program out to elementary and high school students as well as public safety officers and EMS.

Mayor Sarno states, “I am proud to announce, with CDO Tim Sheehan and representatives from three of our local colleges, the details of my administration’s $750,000 Higher Education ARPA Fund, which I previously announced back in July 2023 as part of my 13th round of ARPA awards announcement.  This first of its kind grant initiative will financially support our Springfield students so that they can continue their education and pursue a much-needed career program at one of these three higher education institutions in Springfield, especially in the fields of mental health, health care, education and public safety.  This investment in educational opportunities will pay dividends down the road for our community and will help ensure that the workforce in these critical and vital fields is sufficient to keep up with the growing demand and need.”

Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm