Bloomberg Philanthropies Invests $250M to Create Healthcare High Schools, Including One in West Dallas

Locally, the initiative will pair Baylor Scott & White Health with Uplift Education to launch a healthcare-focused high school in West Dallas later this year. "America needs more healthcare workers, and we need a stronger, larger middle-class—and this is a way to help accomplish both goals," billionaire Mike Bloomberg said.

America faces a shortfall of workers to fill healthcare jobs, with 2 million open positions today expected to grow to 4 million by 2031. To help fill those roles—and to provide young people with the know-how to attain “family-sustaining wages” in the future—Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a major new initiative Wednesday.

The $250 million initiative will help create new healthcare-focused high schools in 10 U.S. communities, including Dallas, “that will graduate students directly into high-demand healthcare jobs,” the New York-based nonprofit said.

The “first-of-its kind” initiative teams up public education systems with hospitals in 10 communities, from big cities (New York City, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, Nashville,  and Philadelphia in addition to Dallas) to rural areas (Demopolis, Alabama, and Northeast Tennessee).

In Dallas, the initiative will pair Baylor Scott & White Health with Uplift Education, which operates a network of 37 tuition-free public charter schools on 19 campuses serving 17,500 students in underserved areas.

Bloomberg Philanthropies says that each school will offer students “robust academic programming, specialized healthcare classes, work-based learning at the partner health system, and the opportunity to earn industry-valued credentials and certifications.”

Open healthcare job positions in the U.S. [Graphic: Bloomberg Philanthropies]

West Dallas healthcare-focused school will open later this year

Each school in the initiative will provide “traditional academic programming, as well as specialized healthcare classes co-taught by health system employees using co-designed curriculum,” Bloomberg Philanthropies said.

The schools in Dallas, Boston, and Charlotte will open in 2024, while schools in the other communities will open through 2026.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Baylor Scott & White Health and Uplift Education will work together to turn Uplift Heights Preparatory in West Dallas into a healthcare-focused school. In addition, they plan to launch a health science pathway at Uplift Grand Preparatory in Grand Prairie.

The Dallas-area partnership will be getting around $14.6 million from the Bloomberg Philanthropies funding to launch the initiative locally, the DMN reported.

Jobs waiting for students immediately after graduation

Immediately after graduating, students at the schools “can enter healthcare jobs within the partner healthcare system or choose to advance their healthcare career through post-secondary education,” the nonprofit said.

Collectively, the schools will serve nearly 6,000 students at full capacity—and the health system partners, including Baylor Scott & White in Dallas, have committed to providing job opportunities for students “who successfully complete the graduation requirements of their respective programs.”

Billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P., said that for too long, “our education system has failed to prepare students for good jobs in high-growth industries.”

“By combining classroom learning with hands-on experience, these specialized healthcare high schools will prepare students for careers with opportunities for growth and advancement,” Bloomberg added in a statement. “America needs more healthcare workers, and we need a stronger, larger middle-class—and this is a way to help accomplish both goals.”

The nonprofit noted that healthcare jobs provide “a clear path to economic mobility and are resilient to automation or outsourcing—and many do not require a four-year degree.”

Michael Bloomberg introducing the healthcare-focused high school initiative [Video still: Bloomberg Philanthropies]

Growing ‘the next generation of healthcare professionals in Dallas’

Yasmin Bhatia, CEO of Dallas-based Uplift Education, said her organization “believes every student in our network should have the opportunity for economic freedom on a pathway that is best suited for them. We’re thrilled and humbled to work with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Baylor Scott & White Health to grow the next generation of healthcare professionals in Dallas.”

Students at all the schools will have the opportunity to earn “industry-valued credentials, certifications, and college credits” as high schoolers, enabling them to graduate with the choice of going straight into work at the partner health system and/or continuing their education—either full or part-time—to further their preparation for a healthcare career.

Bloomberg Philanthropies said that if students choose to go directly into work, hospital partners “have committed to subsidizing the tuition for students’ ongoing part-time or full-time education.”

Jobs that students will be prepared to take on after graduation include surgical technologist ($56,000 median starting salary), radiology technician ($65,000 median starting salary), or respiratory therapist ($71,000 median starting salary), among others, the nonprofit noted.

Bloomberg Philanthropies said its $250 million investment will support school start-up costs, including personnel and classroom and lab renovations. It will also  support healthcare-specific work-based learning costs, including “developing specialized curricula, lab materials, and equipment and stipends for work-based learning.”

The nonprofit has big hopes for the initiative, far beyond the 10 communities it’s initially targeting. It’s aiming for the success of this rollout to potentially “scale across the nation and serve as sustainable, long-term models for how to address gaps in education and workforce development.”

Follows up on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ career and technical ed initiative

The new healthcare-focused high school initiative isn’t Bloomberg Philanthropies’ first big such program. In 2016, the nonprofit launched an education program focused on career and technical education (CTE) work “to help create strong middle-class career opportunities by providing high school students with essential skills, job training and access to continued education.”

The focus of that effort has been on programs within high schools that provide training, credentials, certifications, and work-based learning —through apprenticeships and internships—to help young people obtain employment in high-growth industries, the nonprofit said.

Bloomberg Philanthropies said it has invested $355 million in CTE initiatives around the U.S. to date, including the new one announced Wednesday.

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