STARKE - Bradford County School District was awarded $4 million by Gov. Ron DeSantis to support expanding Santa Fe College’s Associate in Science in Nursing (ASN) program into Bradford County.

The “Bradford: Building a Healthy Future,” initiative was among nearly $223 million in projects funded by the Governor on Feb. 2, 2024, through the federally supported Multipurpose Community Facilities Program. The program provides for the construction and rehabilitation of community facilities for workforce development, educational opportunities and access to healthcare in small and rural communities for Floridians.

Bradford County received the maximum award. It was among 29 projects funded across the state, including community centers, health clinics, schools and workforce development programs serving 18 counties.

The school district’s collaboration with Santa Fe College will increase access to healthcare education in Bradford County as well as access to healthcare for county residents by addressing nursing shortages experienced locally and across the U.S.

“Nurses are an indispensable part of an effective health care system, and both locally and nationally, there is a need for trained, qualified nursing professionals,” Santa Fe College President Dr. Paul Broadie II said. “We are excited to partner with North Florida Technical College on this transformational opportunity to address the nursing shortage, while providing the citizens of Bradford County easier access to the training needed to enter this in-demand field.”

The program will be located at the school district’s North Florida Technical College in Starke. The award will allow NFTC to renovate, upgrading space for the nursing classroom, lab and office space, as well as the purchase of equipment. The award also supports remote instruction.

The program, which anticipates launching in 2026-27, will allow students to earn their Associate in Science degree in Nursing without having to travel to Santa Fe College’s Northwest Campus in Gainesville. Graduates from Santa Fe College’s program will have the opportunity to earn high paying jobs. The average pay for Registered Nurses is $71,922 annually.

The collaboration with Bradford County complements the college’s efforts to expand nursing education, including the Nursing ANEW program launched in 2022, which provides instruction on nights and weekends for working professionals.

“We are excited to continue to expand our partnership with Santa Fe College,” Will Harley, Bradford County Superintendent of Schools, said. “The ASN program will be a valuable bridge for our students at North Florida Technical College to continue their education and pursue jobs that provide a higher wage.

“I am so appreciative of all of those who worked on this grant to increase the opportunities to our community. We will be working hard to complete the necessary renovations so that the program can start as soon as possible.” 

“Bradford: Building a Healthy Future,” also includes support for the proposed telehealth access space for Bradford County students and citizens, increasing access to healthcare and fitness.

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