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Augsburg Health Commons Receives $50,000 Award to Advance Health Equity Through Nursing

A volunteer wearing gray scrubs and a face mask provides a blood pressure check for a guest at the Augsburg Central Health Commons.For 30 years, the Augsburg Health Commons have advanced a model of nursing practice rooted in accompaniment, social justice, and transcultural nursing practice. In early January, the program received a $50,000 Health Equity Innovation Fund grant from AARP and the Center to Champion Nursing in America, a joint initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to deepen and expand this work.

“We are moved beyond words to be selected for this opportunity,” said Katie Clark, associate professor of nursing and executive director of the Health Commons. “These funds will not only help relieve some of the suffering people are forced to endure in the immediate term, but will also help cultivate ideas and solutions for the long term in caring for people who experience marginalization.” 

The first Augsburg Health Commons drop-in center opened at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis in 1992. Most people seeking care at the Central location live without a permanent residence or are marginally housed. In 2011, a second location in Cedar-Riverside opened in response to a need for accessible, no-cost health care services identified by members of the East African immigrant community located near Augsburg’s campus. Both locations center community voices and are led and organized by nursing faculty members, nursing and physician assistant volunteers, students, and community members.

The people who come to the Health Commons are from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Everyone is welcome, and all services are provided free of charge. Health concerns might include nutrition, medication, stress management, respiratory conditions, injuries, skin problems, and chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension. Frequently, people experiencing these problems come to Health Commons locations for their easy access, supportive environment, and assistance with connecting to other health care resources.

Going forward, the Health Equity Innovation Fund grant project will focus on three interconnected goals.

  • Continuing and expanding care for marginalized communities.
  • Deepening the focus on health equity, systemic racism, and structural inequities in nursing education. 
  • Disseminating knowledge to influence the nursing profession towards greater inclusiveness.

The Health Commons will continue providing opportunities for the most marginalized communities of Minneapolis to live healthier lives as they are cared for in local context. In addition to existing sites at Central Lutheran Church and Cedar Riverside and work with local encampments, the grant will allow staff and volunteers to explore new partnerships at other locations, including in North Minneapolis in collaboration with Augsburg’s physician assistant program. 

By providing paid research and practice internships for graduate nursing students, the grant will also support the educational mission of the Health Commons. Students in Augsburg’s BSN, Master’s, and DNP programs will continue to learn to decode systems of oppression that are embedded within systems and social norms, and to promote health equity by connecting with others through shared humanity. The project will fund dissemination of research by Augsburg faculty and students through conferences and publishing. In so doing, it aims to create pathways for developing inclusiveness within the nursing profession, both in practice and in the academy. 

“Our Augsburg nursing faculty are excited to be able to dig deeper into naming systemic and structural racism in partnership with people with lived experience in an effort to begin creating needed change in healthcare and the discipline of nursing,” said Clark.

Augsburg Health Commons is one of 16 organizations nationally to receive a Health Equity Innovations Fund award for 2022. The awards through the AARP Center for Health Equity through NursingSM and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are for projects offering promising solutions aimed at eliminating structural inequities, particularly structural racism, within the nursing profession, health systems, or community, and for projects that help improve access to care and services for those most disproportionately impacted by health disparities. Projects also support the advancement of one or more of the recommendations in the National Academy of Medicine report, “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity.”

Find out more about the projects or visit the Augsburg Health Commons website.

Inside Higher Ed Spotlights Augsburg’s New Admissions Approach

Inside HIgher EdRobert Gould, vice president for strategic enrollment management, recently spoke to Inside Higher Ed about Augsburg’s participation in a Minnesota direct admission pilot program. Through the program, students in 50 high schools will be automatically admitted to participating colleges and universities based on GPA. 

This move is part of a broader shift at Augsburg from a “gatekeeper” model of admissions to an enrollment experience focused on student belonging. Going forward, Gould said, admissions counselors will have more time to spend on outreach, financial aid, and supporting students rather than evaluating them. 

“Part of the mission here is supporting democracy,” he said. “This is about sharing power.”

The piece was the latest in a series on direct admissions in higher education. Read the full article in Inside Higher Ed: Direct Admissions Takes Off

Augsburg welcomes most diverse class in its history

Class of 2020 is 45 percent persons of color

EquityProclamation(MINNEAPOLIS) — Augsburg College at 10:15 a.m., today, welcomes it’s most diverse, first-year undergraduate class — with more than 45 percent persons of color. At the same time, the College is announcing its initial equity framework to remove the social, institutional and individual barriers that contribute to inequity.

This important work garnered support from the St. Paul Foundation — a grant of $10,000 and the opportunity for additional funding as the framework takes shape.

“Working to foster diversity and inclusivity has been a cornerstone of the Augsburg promise for many years and is an important extension of our commitment to social justice and equity,” said Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow.

“We are honored to have the support of the St. Paul Foundation which places high importance on racial equity work. We know, as a democracy college, that Minnesota is strengthened by the diversity of its people and that educating persons of diverse backgrounds who learn at the intersection of differences is what best prepares young people to become engaged citizens and educated problem solvers.”

Since 2006, Augsburg has more than tripled the percentage of persons of color in the full undergraduate student body, growing from 11 percent in 2006 to 33 percent in 2016.

Through this work, the College has earned a leading reputation for demonstrating a unique way of engaging in the work of higher education. Within the Minnesota Private College Council, the overall enrollment average among schools includes 27 percent first-generation students and 20 percent Pell-eligible students. Augsburg leads the state among private, four-year institutions with nearly 50 percent of students who are first-generation and more than 40 percent of students who are Pell-eligible.

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Pribbenow discusses commitment to higher education achievement equity with U.S. Department of Education

Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow is the tenth president of the college.WASHINGTON, D.C. — Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow participated in a high-level meeting with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., last week focused on highlighting successful strategies for increasing equity in college access and graduation rates for students eligible for the Federal Pell Grant Program.

One recent strategy deployed by Augsburg, in partnership with Minneapolis Community and Technical College and with Saint Paul College, is the Auggie Plan. The thoughtfully and carefully constructed Auggie Plan, which is customized to the student profile of each partner institution, creates a clear, attainable, predictable, and efficient path from an associate’s degree to a liberal arts degree. The Auggie Plan is slated to be in five community and technical colleges by 2017.

“As a college located in one of the most diverse ZIP codes in the region and with a traditional undergraduate population comprised of 40 percent Pell-eligible students, Augsburg is deeply familiar with the work that a commitment to inclusion entails,” Pribbenow said. “We also know how rewarding it is when we get it right — which, admittedly, is not every time and not as often as we’d like. But the fact that there is still work to be done in no way deters our commitment.

“At Augsburg, we do this work because it is both right and necessary. It’s right and necessary for students — enriching our learning community with questions and ideas from a vast array of bright minds. It is right and necessary for businesses and nonprofits — marshaling the talents and perspectives of all our people to address our region’s most pressing needs and opportunities. It is right and necessary for Minnesota as a state that offers a lifestyle we cherish and wish to sustain. “

U.S. President Barack Obama, since the beginning of his administration, has worked to ensure more U.S. residents have the opportunity to earn a quality, affordable higher education.

“For us to thrive as a diverse democracy and for individuals to achieve their dreams of success, higher education must fulfill its promise of providing opportunity to all students, regardless of their race, gender, or income level,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell.

“That opportunity means access, but getting into college is not enough. It’s getting in and getting through that matters. There are remarkable institutions around the country succeeding at making access and success a reality for low income students. We need to learn from their leadership and spread the word about practices that work.