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SCC lands $500,000 grant from Dogwood Health Trust

SYLVA – To help create a pipeline of future healthcare workers for the region, Dogwood Health Trust has awarded a $500,000 grant to Southwestern Community College’s Health Sciences Division.

The funding will establish a Project SHIFT (SCC Health-career Initiative For Teens) office, which aims to recruit enough prospective students to maximize the capacity of SCC’s 16 Healthcare career fields – many of which are housed in the recently dedicated Don Tomas Health Sciences Center.

Included in the grant are salaries for two full-time positions as well as stipends for ambassadors to represent the 16 Health Sciences programs. There’s also funding to endow scholarships that will cover the last-dollar educational expenses of Project SHIFT participants.

“There’s a tremendous need, both locally and nationally, for more healthcare workers,” said Dr. Thom Brooks, Executive Vice President of Instruction and Student Services. “We are uniquely qualified to help meet that need in Western North Carolina because we’ve got a beautiful new Health Sciences building loaded with state-of-the-art healthcare training technology. This grant enhances our ability to get into local schools and help steer even more students toward healthcare fields.”

Also in the grant is funding for 16 mobile demonstration kits – one for each of Southwestern’s Health Sciences programs. Those kits can be taken to local high schools as well as community events to help demonstrate what’s involved in each career path.

The initial grant, which marks Dogwood’s largest investment to date at SCC, covers the Project SHIFT office for two years. 

If successful in its efforts over that period, SCC will seek a continuation of the grant funding for future years.

“We know that introducing students to career options early, in middle or high school, can have a great impact on their future education decisions and career prospects,” said Sarah Thompson, Dogwood Health Trust’s Vice President of Community Investment, Economic Opportunity. “This program also was attractive to Dogwood because of the impact it ultimately can make in helping to improve health and wellbeing of area residents, and we hope to see it succeed in creating a strong pipeline of healthcare workers in the SCC region.”

For more information about Healthcare career paths at Southwestern Community College, call 828.339.4198 or


For almost 60 years, Southwestern Community College has served Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties, and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina by providing a wide range of educational options for residents in all stages of life.

SCC has been ranked among the nation’s Top 10 community colleges six times in the last 15 years – including a No. 1 ranking in’s listing of the “Best Community Colleges & Trade Schools of 2020.”

Through a supportive learning environment, Southwestern offers more than 40 degree programs (including more than 90 credentialing options, 28 of which are offered online) in Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences/College Transfer and Career Technologies.

A variety of community resources – including the Small Business Center, Workforce Continuing Education and Career Services – are also available.

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