United Health Foundation Awards Milwaukee Area Technical College $2.3 Million Grant to Expand Nursing School Capacity

January 26, 2017

United Health Foundation announced a grant partnership with Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) to double the size of the school's registered nursing program over the next three years and help address the state's growing nurse shortage. The grant is $2.3 million over three years and was announced at MATC by Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (center). Also pictured (left to right): MATC nursing student Valencia Reyes; Dustin Hinton, president and CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin; Chris Abbott, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin, Medicare & Retirement; and Dr. Vicki J. Martin, MATC president (Photo courtesy of John Paul Greco).

  • Foundation grant part of effort to develop 21st century workforce by increasing nursing school program by 300 additional students

A $2.3 million grant from United Health Foundation will enable the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) to double the size of its registered nursing program over the next three years and help address the state's nursing shortage.

The shortage of registered nurses – described by Wisconsin's Public Policy Forum as "one of the greatest workforce challenges facing the health care industry – and employers as a whole" – affects health care services at all levels of care and is projected to increase as experienced nurses retire. The Forum's report calls for a 24 percent increase in the state's workforce of registered nurses by 2020.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, state Sen. Chris Larson, state Rep. Evan Goyke and state Rep. Ken Skowronski joined Dustin Hinton, president and CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin, and Dr. Vicki J. Martin, MATC president, to announce the grant alongside 50 current MATC nursing students and 50 nurse practitioners from Optum, the health services company of UnitedHealth Group.

"The health care industry is one of the biggest employers in Wisconsin, and we are all aware of the critical shortage of nurses throughout the state," said Lt. Gov. Kleefisch. "United Health Foundation's grant to Milwaukee Area Technical College is a positive step in addressing that need and will provide growing opportunities for future nursing graduates."

Over the next three years, the United Health Foundation grant will help MATC:

  • double enrollment beginning fall 2017;
  • increase capacity to graduate an additional 100 students by year three;
  • hire 16 new nursing program instructors;
  • support recruitment of low-income students; and
  • assist with placement services once students graduate.

MATC is matching the United Health Foundation grant to expand the number of tutors, teaching assistants and other support services to students.

As a result of these goals, the program's capacity will be increased to meet the anticipated demand for registered nurses in Wisconsin.

"This grant from United Health Foundation affirms its commitment to our community and provides us with the resources needed to identify, recruit, develop and educate the next generation of nurses so desperately needed in the Milwaukee area and throughout Wisconsin," said Dr. Martin.

"To ensure our health care system is the most modern, innovative and effective in the world requires targeted investments to develop the next generation of health care workers," said Hinton. "The partnership between Milwaukee Area Technical College and United Health Foundation is the type of private-public approach we need to address the shortage of nurses in Wisconsin."

In addition to the funding provided by United Health Foundation, clinical training opportunities provided by MATC's partners are making this project possible. Aurora Health Care, Ascension Health, Children's Hospital, Froedtert Hospital & Medical College of Wisconsin, and dozens of long-term care facilities will enable the college to add 36 additional clinical training sites.

"Studies have shown that nursing care improves health outcomes, reducing adverse events and ultimately decreasing medical costs," said Dr. Michelle Graham, medical director, UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin.  "Having a sufficient number of well-trained nurses who can meet the staffing demands of our health care systems will have a positive impact on our communities."

"This partnership helps expand the nursing program, increasing access to health care workers in the community," said Mary Jo Jerde, senior vice president, UnitedHealth Group's Center for Clinician Advancement.

Valencia Reyes, a current nursing student at MATC who graduated from Lady Pitts High School, said: "United Health Foundation and Milwaukee Area Technical College's commitment will have a lasting impact on our community. Providing more students like me the opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming a nurse will benefit many people and will help improve the health of greater Milwaukee and Wisconsin."

After the grant announcement, 50 Optum nurse practitioners met with 50 MATC nursing students who will graduate in December 2017. The Optum nurse practitioners offered career advice to the students as they complete their degrees and transition to the workforce.

About MATC  

Wisconsin's largest technical college and the most diverse two-year institution in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin's economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. Approximately 50,000 students per year attend the college's four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers 200 academic programs; nearly 400 transfer options leading to bachelor's degrees; and a School of Pre-College Education, which assists people with completing high school, preparing for college or entering the workforce. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, the national standard for academics and student services. MATC is one of the Wisconsin's foremost providers of nurses, and is accredited by the National League for Nursing. MATC students perform very well on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX); 98% of MATC's RN graduates passed the licensing exam in 2015. 

About United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed nearly $315 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at or follow