A new program from Oakland University’s (OU) School of Nursing at Focus Hope in central Detroit has $800,000 in grant money intended to provide full tuition for specially qualified applicants. The program’s purpose is to help people get back on their feet by encouraging homeless, unemployed, or underemployed members of the Detroit Community into nursing careers.

The program targeted Detroit because it is one of the leading cities in the United States with third-generation poverty. Beyond helping families escape from homelessness and find nice jobs, Oakland University wants to help Detroit citizens into a career ladder so that future generations of their families don’t fall into the same situation.

OU’s School of Nursing at Focus Hope has a wonderful goal for helping less fortunate families improve their outcomes, but finding applicants hasn’t been easy. Applicants are required to have a high school diploma or GED and pass a drug screen. The nursing school decided to go to where the people are, searching for people in shelters, standing in food lines, or those just down on their luck but with an aptitude to help others.

Luckily, a few students have now been approved for the program. Crystal Jordan, a single mother who was working as a nurse’s assistant at COTS (Coalition on Temporary Shelter), heard the commotion and wandered outside to find that she was a perfect fit for a free nursing education. Jordan loves caring for people who need help, but didn’t have the option to pay college tuition. She has four kids under 12 years old and has to use all of the money she makes for bills, food, and school supplies.

Ashley Banks is another example of someone who dreamed of being a nurse but couldn’t afford tuition. Thanks to OU’s School of Nursing at Focus Hope, Banks started nursing school this summer and will graduate in January. Banks says the program has been life-changing for her, forcing her to alter her way of living to better herself. And she says the program is heartwarming in the way she is learning things to help change other peoples’ lives as well. She now has 64 credits toward being a registered nurse and will soon complete her nursing education, coming out highly employable and debt-free at the end.

More students are needed before the end of September to keep the money for the program from going away.

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