TriHealth Creates $14M Endowment for School to Work Program

January 24, 2022

Following the resounding success of its first graduating student cohort, TriHealth – the Cincinnati region’s only nationally recognized integrated health system made up of six hospitals and more than 140 sites of care – has announced the creation of a $14M endowment to fund the future of our next generation of healthcare workers through the innovative School to Work program at TriHealth’s Good Samaritan Hospital.

bi3, Bethesda Inc.’s grantmaking initiative to transform health in Greater Cincinnati, and CommonSpirit, one of the co-sponsors of TriHealth along with Bethesda Inc., both provided transformational gifts of $6M to fund this innovative apprenticeship program, with TriHealth investing an additional $2M. In total, the $14M investment will allow the program to continue in perpetuity. The goal of the fund is to reach $15M.

“bi3 in partnership with TriHealth is working to transform healthcare in our region by fueling new approaches to improve health for all people. Our $1 million seed investment in TriHealth’s School-to-Work program launched the initiative, which gives unprecedented hands-on experience and mentorship to students and creates a more diverse healthcare workforce,” said Jill Miller, Bethesda Inc. & bi3 President and CEO. “School-to-Work is a shining example of how one idea can be piloted, scaled, and sustained to build health equity, so every person has a fair and just opportunity to achieve their best health.”

The only program of its kind in Greater Cincinnati and one of the few in the country, TriHealth’s School to Work program is aimed at inspiring diverse high school students to pursue careers in healthcare through real-world work experience and mentorship. TriHealth has partnered with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) to provide these jobs. As part of this two-year program, the students gain "real-life" work experience and mentorship from healthcare professionals they rotate quarterly across clinical and support departments within Good Samaritan Hospital, all while earning a paycheck and high school credit for applied learning.

“TriHealth is committed to building a talented and inclusive work force that mirrors the rich and growing diversity of the communities we serve,” said Mark C. Clement, TriHealth President & CEO. “The School to Work program enables us to expand the reach of our talent pipeline while providing high school students with meaningful exposure to the world of healthcare.”

The School to Work program is modeled upon the success of a proven apprenticeship program in Rochester, NY. The program in Rochester began in 1989 and when looking at the program’s more recent success over a nine-year period, 100% of the students who completed the Rochester Youth Apprentice program graduated from high school and gained college acceptance. Of those, more than 85% of the students pursued careers in healthcare.

Jeremiah Kirkland, President and Chief Operating Officer of Good Samaritan Hospital at Evendale, is a graduate of the Rochester Youth Apprentice program and brought this concept to Greater Cincinnati upon his arrival to TriHealth in 2018.

“Coming from a program like this, I know what it means to have an opportunity to be able to get a foot in the door of a competitive industry,” said Kirkland. “TriHealth is showing a tremendous commitment to helping grow a diverse workforce with the School to Work program.”

The program was initially funded by a $1M grant from bi3. The initial cohort consisted of ten students from CPS’s Hughes High School. The students graduated in the spring of 2021. Nine of these students are pursuing future careers in healthcare, and one-third of the inaugural class have accepted part-time positions within TriHealth hospitals as they further their education.

“CommonSpirit is reinforcing its long-term commitment to the Cincinnati community with its substantial endowment to support the School to Work program," said Philip Foster, Common Spirit's chief risk officer and a TriHealth Board Member. "Programs like this one, which provides jobs to dozens of students every year, are vital to developing the next generation of talent in healthcare. We are pleased to support a great program that has already had a tremendous impact on the lives of many young people in Cincinnati.”

The new endowment will allow TriHealth to recruit students from other CPS system high schools. The goal is to grow the program’s enrollment to between 40-50 CPS high school students at all times.

“Getting the students to and from school without them having to find their own transportation has been a barrier to expanding the program to more schools,” said Kirkland. “Thanks to the investments of bi3, CommonSpirit and TriHealth, we will now be able to find transportation solutions that fit the needs of students in more high schools in Cincinnati Public Schools.”

Students will also be exposed to additional learning opportunities as a result of the endowment with plans to organize an annual healthcare exploration field trip. This will consist of students touring other regional and national medical facilities where they can participate and interact with medical professionals to gain insights on healthcare operations in markets beyond Greater Cincinnati. For some of the students, it will be the first time they have ever travelled outside the Greater Cincinnati area.

The commitment of the School to Work program will last beyond a student’s high school years. Students in the program will also be eligible to apply for scholarship money to continue pursuing a career in healthcare at the Good Samaritan College of Nursing & Health Science or other area schools.

Based on the early success of the program, bi3 and TriHealth are developing a guide so other communities and health systems can replicate the success of TriHealth’s School-to-Work program.