New program offers wraparound services, case management & training to support historically underserved communities

Austin Community College District (ACC) and Dwyer Workforce Development (DWD) launch a new partnership to train and skill up more nurses to help close the healthcare workforce gap in Central Texas. 

ACC and DWD created a pathway for students who want to start a career in healthcare as certified nurse aides (CNA). The program offers unique wraparound services designed to connect students — mainly historically underrepresented community members — with resources to succeed inside and outside the classroom.

“This collaboration is a win for the Central Texas community. This program provides our students an incredible opportunity to learn, connect with a new promising career, and get the support they need to be successful,” says ACC Chancellor Dr. Richard Rhodes. “This kind of partnership is what it takes to reimagine higher education and eliminate equity gaps. Together we can meet the critical needs in the healthcare community.”

The program will launch with the college’s fast-track Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) program. Offered through ACC’s Continuing Education Division, the program can be completed in as little as 8 weeks. The students will be designated as “Dwyer Scholars” and receive customized support, including:

  • A personal case manager to help them through the application process and address ongoing obstacles they face. 
  • Additional training support through Workforce Solutions Capital Area and Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, when eligible. 
  • Personal support services such as help finding child care, housing, transportation, and job placement support. 
  • Continued support for ongoing learning through ACC’s stackable credentials — from an associate degree up to the college’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing at ACC. 

Scholars who complete the program can be employed at Dwyer or other healthcare settings in the Austin area. 

The partnership also provides additional clinical hours for ACC nursing students through Dwyer clinics. 

Dwyer Workforce Development is a Maryland-based nonprofit dedicated to removing obstacles from students’ lives so they can earn their healthcare certificates, launch their careers, and help close the growing workforce gap. It has helped support more than 400 scholars in Maryland and recently launched an apprenticeship program with Houston Community College.

“Our goal is simple: remove obstacles from students’ lives so they can launch meaningful careers that help others,” says Barb Clapp, Dwyer Workforce Development CEO. “We are excited to partner with ACC and expect to accomplish great things in Austin and Texas by giving people the tools they need to change their lives.”

“Healthcare is one of our region’s highest-growth industries and healthcare workers continue to be in demand as Austin’s population increases,” says Ashley King, director of healthcare partnerships at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “These entry-level career pathways are vital to the operation of facilities and pave the way to upskill workers to fill crucial higher-skilled roles.”

Texas faces the second-largest nursing shortage in the country. The need for nurses will grow to more than 511,000 by 2028 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Texas Department of State Health Services also says the need for nurses in Texas will quadruple from 2015 to 2030.

The first cohort of Dwyer Scholars will enter the program and begin training in September. Options will be expanded to meet demand. ACC and Dwyer expect to be able to serve hundreds of students.  

For more information, contact April Lusk, Dwyer Workforce Development service navigator, at [email protected]. For more information on ACC’s nursing programs, visit the college’s Nursing Program webpage.