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UMass Medical School recognized for preparing youth for jobs

K-16 outreach programs earn GROW Award from Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board

  Robert Layne, director of outreach programs at UMass Medical School
  Robert Layne, director of outreach programs at UMMS

UMass Medical School is receiving a 2014 Growing and Readying Our Workforce (GROW) Award from the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board for its strong commitment to strengthening K-16 education and youth workforce development in Worcester and the region—especially with a myriad of programs to increase the number of under-represented and disadvantaged students entering careers in health care and biomedical research.

These UMMS programs have served nearly 9,000 students.

“It’s gratifying that the community recognizes how hard we work in order to provide opportunities for Worcester area students,” said Robert Layne, director of outreach programs at UMMS. “Regardless of their background or circumstances, we’re here for them.”

The Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment serves Worcester and 37 surrounding communities in Central Massachusetts. It is one of 16 Workforce Investment Boards throughout Massachusetts charged with overseeing and implementing local workforce development initiatives.

The only public entity and institution of higher education to receive a GROW award, UMass Medical School offers an array of mentoring, job shadowing, internship, summer employment, laboratory research and after-school science programs, as well as academic support for students in middle school through college. Each year, these programs expose hundreds of young people from Worcester, as well as from across the state and the country, to the exciting opportunities that health and science careers bring.

Layne and colleagues in the Office of School Services direct the Worcester Pipeline Collaborative at Worcester North High School and the Worcester Technical High School, and host the annual high school Health Care Career Expo and the four-week residential summer High School Health Careers Program.

For college students, the Summer Enrichment Program helps those aspiring to attend medical school; the Summer Undergraduate Research Program provides paid hands-on laboratory experiences for Massachusetts residents attending college nationwide who are interested in health care and biomedical science careers; and the Baccalaureate MD Pathway is for qualified students from all four UMass undergraduate campuses.

The Regional Science Resource Center serves middle school science teachers and students throughout Massachusetts.

In addition to preparation for careers in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math, UMMS exposes youth to other career paths. Opportunities for local students include Building Brighter Futures for Youth, which provides summer jobs to 25 Worcester high school juniors and seniors, and the Emerging Professionals Summer Internship Program, a paid 10-week internship that allows underrepresented minority college students to explore potential administrative careers.

Many students who have participated in these programs over the years have gone on to graduate school, some at the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Nursing and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMMS. Many others have found employment at UMass Medical School and with clinical partner UMass Memorial Health Care.

“We have built a critical mass over the years in terms of the number of youth we are reaching and the way they are becoming employed,” said Layne. “We are data driven, and we are seeing results.”

Layne and Deborah Harmon Hines, PhD, vice provost for school services and professor of cell & developmental biology, who has spearheaded many of the award-winning programs, will accept the GROW honor at a ceremony being held at the Asa Waters House in Millbury on Thursday, Feb. 26.

“We are proud that UMMS has made significant contributions to increasing diversity in all of the health professions by working with K-16 students," said Dr. Harmon Hines. "The GROW award affirms these efforts.” 

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Helping to build brighter futures for Worcester youth
Newsmaker: Pre-med boot camp at UMass Medical School
Summer Enrichment Program encourages medical careers: Similar goals and hard work unite students from diverse backgrounds
Making the leap from college to medical school: Summer Enrichment Program eases the way
Realizing the rewards of research: Summer Undergraduate Research fellows thrill to scientific discovery
 It’s never too early to start: High School Health Careers Program puts teens on the right path