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The Research Foundation awards health care career grants through special funding cycle

young person looking through microscope

KANSAS CITY, Mo., (Jun. 6, 2024) – The Research Foundation hosted a special funding cycle for supporting health care career pathways, awarding a total of $90,000 to two organizations in the Kansas City area.

PREP-KC received $50,000 for its HealthStart program. The program provides students attending four urban high schools across Kansas City the opportunity to accelerate their path to a career in health sciences. HealthStart allows students to earn industry-recognized credentials and college credit while still in high school while learning more about health science careers through ongoing interaction with health care professionals. With The Research Foundation’s funding, young people who participate in HealthStart and attend the region's urban high schools graduate ready to join Kansas City's health sciences workforce.

Operation Breakthrough received $40,000 for its Ignition Lab Healthcare Pathway. The Ignition Lab opened in September 2021 as a workforce development and entrepreneurship hub to help close the opportunity gap for underserved and underrepresented high school students on the east side of Kansas City. In November 2023, a pilot program for teens to explore health care pathways and medical certifications was launched. Twice a month, Operation Breakthrough hosted a group of high school students to complete a lab and learn about associated careers in the health sciences. Grant funding from The Research Foundation will turn the pilot program into a permanent, full health care career pathway offered in the Ignition Lab. The program will prepare students to earn certifications in four different areas including certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, phlebotomy, and medical technicians.

To offset the mounting shortage of health care workers, The Research Foundation’s community grants program is investing in programming which engages young people in pursuing training and careers in health care. Programs which demonstrate a commitment to promoting a diverse workforce in health care have special consideration. The Research Foundation is willing to consider funding programs which are within the six county Kansas City metro area, with a preference for programming offered in Kansas City, Missouri, and Jackson County.

“The Research Foundation is interested in funding programming that supports career pathways for students interested in the health care sector as well as programs that provide opportunities for students to learn about health,” Cynthia Randazzo, The Research Foundation president and CEO, said. “Our new community grants program recognizes the severity of the impending shortage of nurses, doctors, and allied health technicians. We aim to provide opportunity for young people in Kansas City to consider these careers.”

In December 2023, The Research Foundation awarded its inaugural slate of community grants for programs and organizations that expand access to care, promote health equity, and engage students in health care careers. The foundation focused its first-year grants on organizations with health-centered missions that primarily serve residents in Jackson County, Missouri, prioritizing urban Kansas City.

More information about The Research Foundation’s community grants program is available at