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La Raza Health-Care Program Awarded for Excellence


The Carreras en Salud program of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, received the U.S. Department of Labor’s Recognition of Excellence Award for “tapping talents of special populations in the workforce” at the 2008 Workforce Innovations Conference on Aug. 6. The award honors programs, projects, or initiatives that provide effective career-enhancement services to populations facing barriers to employment, the department said.

Carreras en Salud is the flagship site of its Health Care Career Pathways Initiative and was developed and implemented by NCLR in partnership with its Chicago Affiliates, Instituto del Progreso Latino and Association House of Chicago.  Humboldt Park Vocational Education Center of Wilbur Wright College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, also contributed. The program trains Latinos to become certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and registered nurses in an effort to remedy the shortage of bilingual health care professionals in the Chicago area.

“Latinos are far underrepresented in the health care workforce, which undercuts the quality of care they receive,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murgua. “Programs like Carreras en Salud provide Latinos with not only upward economic mobility through advanced education and training, but also access to a culturally and linguistically competent health care workforce.”

Since its inception, Carreras en Salud has graduated 100 LPNs, all of whom have been placed in jobs, according to La Raza. To date, it said the program has achieved a 95 percent retention rate and has graduated 98 percent of its participants.

“This program provides multiple entry and exit points and offers resources such as on-site child care to those seeking to advance their careers in the health professions,” said Brent R. Orrell, deputy assistant secretary of labor for employment and training.  “Programs like these are critical to meeting high-growth industry needs now and in the future.” 

As a result of the initiative, employers such as Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Lakeview Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre, and Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion have been able to hire more local Chicago residents.

Visit for more information on Carreras en Salud.

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