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Mount Receives Truist Foundation Grant for Workforce Scholars Program

Donna Klinger

Truist grant check presentation

Pictured from left to right are Jen Staiger, Ph.D., associate provost, Division of Continuing Studies; Greg Farno, former Truist regional president of Maryland; Colleen Chidester, Truist commercial baker; Mount St. Mary's President Tim Trainor, Ph.D.; Rob Tuggle, Truist market president; and Associate Professor and Director of Human Services Tim Wolfe, Ph.D.

Mount St. Mary’s University Center for Lifelong Learning has received a $50,000 grant from the Truist Foundation to develop a program to provide unemployed or underemployed individuals with a pathway to financial success and as a result improve their lives.

This grant will be used to build the infrastructure and curricula within the Division of Continuing Studies’ Center for Lifelong Learning to train scholars as peer recovery specialists and registered behavior technicians. These mental health fields are high-demand professions. 

“The Workforce Scholars Program will inspire and build better lives for unemployed and underemployed individuals by helping them find career pathways to financial sustainability all while learning to appreciate the value of education,” said Jen Staiger, associate provost of the Division of Continuing Studies. “Scholars in the program will ‘paint a picture of their future self’ that may be impossible for them to imagine in their current life situation.”

“Truist is proud to support programs like this that provide skill-building and economic advancement opportunities for hard-working individuals, as well as a talent pipeline for high-demand jobs within the mental health field,” said Evelyn Lee, Truist regional president for Greater Washington and Maryland.

Through collaboration with workforce partners, this grant will allow the Mount to develop a career readiness assessment and training program designed to reduce the effects of systemic poverty and inequality in Maryland, while also addressing the turnover crisis in the human services industry caused by staffing shortages and burnout. 

The Workforce Scholars Program will begin with a comprehensive evaluation to determine the career readiness of each scholar.  This will allow participants to be placed in the most appropriate learning pathway, with the goal of helping them achieve a successful career and a sustainable income. Grant funds will be used to develop the assessment/screening process, develop six-week training programs and identify scholars. The university, which has a goal of training 10 scholars in the first cohort of these programs, anticipates enrolling the first scholars in the summer of 2024.

Individuals will receive training through one of two certification preparation programs. For scholars to achieve peer recovery specialist certification in Maryland, they will complete a comprehensive and integrated 46-hour training program at the Mount that emphasizes four domains: advocacy, mentoring, recovery, and ethical responsibility. In addition, they need 500 hours of supervised field experience (paid and/or volunteer), as well as other requirements necessary for certification (e.g., at least two years of documented recovery from a behavioral and/or mental health condition).

The six-week registered behavior technician (RBT) program prepares students for a competency assessment as well as meets all requirements for applying to take the RBT certification exam. This comprehensive course offers 40 hours of in-depth content, setting scholars on the path to RBT certification readiness. The program provides job placement support and tailored professional development, preparing students not only for certification but also equipping them for success in assisting individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Donna Klinger