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Oklahoma Christian University receives $75,000 grant to fund healthcare program which champions nontraditional students

OC Mercy Student

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 31, 2023) – Oklahoma Christian University (OC) announced today it has received a $75,000 grant from Telligen Community Initiative (TCI), a private, Iowa-based charitable foundation. The funds will support the College of Outreach and Innovation’s BSN pipeline program, which creates opportunities for many nontraditional healthcare students.

The College of Outreach and Innovation is an alternative education delivery program for high school students and working professionals to earn college credit at their own pace. The work-based BSN program fills gaps in Oklahoma’s job market by offering flexible, affordable paths to a degree and gives working nurses an opportunity to advance their career and expand their proficiency. The program aims to address the nurse shortage in Oklahoma and throughout the region and bolster equity in the field. Less than half of the College of Outreach and Innovation students are in OC’s traditional age range (18-22), and nearly all of them are working at the site of their clinical education. In 2023, nearly 50 percent of the students enrolled in the program were non-white.

“The work-based nursing program was built on the premise that the next generation of registered nurses are already working in our systems, but they lack the opportunity to upskill for career advancement,” said Dr. Sada Knowles, dean of the College of Outreach and Innovation at Oklahoma Christian University. “There’s a rising need to respond to the changing healthcare and higher education landscapes, and with this program we are able to provide crucial opportunities to healthcare leaders the industry desperately needs.”

The work-based nursing program has been one of the university’s fastest growing programs with more than 380 students now enrolled. The TCI grant will assist the school in funding for additional staff and enhanced program offerings.

OC was one of only 13 grantees selected for TCI’s 2023 Healthcare Workforce Development funding cycle, which awarded a total of $894,639 in grants to nonprofit organizations in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma.

“It is heartening and inspiring to see the sustainable and equity-focused strategies that our grantees are using to tackle healthcare workforce shortages from a variety of vantage points,” said Matt McGarvey, executive director of TCI. “Oklahoma Christian University’s program to help healthcare workers pursue their nursing degree while continuing to work full-time is an effort that will continue to positively impact nurses, patients and communities for years to come.”

TCI works to support projects in the priority funding areas of healthcare workforce development and strengthening families and communities (social determinants of health). Since 2014, TCI has awarded more than $15.9 million to over 370 organizations and projects in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma.

Enrollment is now open for College of Outreach and Innovation students. To learn more, visit