College of Nursing Awarded $1.47 Million Grant to Enhance Opportunities for Nurses in Delta Region

Nursing students in hall

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Nursing was recently awarded a grant of $1.47 million from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The grant is specifically designated for the Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) initiative.

Executive Director of Academic Advising and Enrollment Management and Assistant Professor of Practice Jada Russell will lead the team, which also includes Kimberly Brown, clinical assistant professor, Phillip Moore, assistant dean of undergraduate programs and Clea McNeely, research professor. This grant aims to increase employment prospects for registered nurses in the Delta region of Tennessee.

Titled “Bridging to Opportunity: Good Jobs for Nurses in the Delta Region,” the project will pave the way for a career pathway, contributing to the economic advancement and long-term resilience of registered nurses in the Delta region. Current RN’s in the region will have the opportunity to apply for the online RN to BSN program. If accepted into the program the grant will cover tuition. The primary focus of the project is to foster economic stability and improve the health sector within the region.

“We are dedicated to creating a sustainable, equitable, and supportive environment for nurse trainees to thrive and progress within their careers,” said Russell. “This project isn’t just about jobs; it’s about empowering individuals and building a resilient healthcare workforce.”

Bridging to Opportunity combines the resources from the College of Nursing, Dyersburg State Community College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Baptist Memorial Hospital, United Way, Rural Health Association and American Job Center to overcome barriers that impede associate-degree nurses from developing their skills to access career advancement.

The anticipated outcomes include the enrollment of 32 trainees in the RN to BSN online program, training for nurse mentors and College of Nursing faculty members in equity-based mentoring and advising, and the establishment of workplace mentoring programs. This initiative will benefit both new nurses entering the to the workforce and incumbent workers in the nursing field.

The project will cover numerous counties in the Delta region, including Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardin, Haywood, Hardeman, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Tipton, and Weakley.


Kara Clark (865-974 9498,