Increasing the quantity and quality of the workforce serving the aging population is the ultimate goal of 17 grants totaling more than $385,000 that recently were awarded to rural LeadingAge Minnesota members.

Overall, the LeadingAge Minnesota Foundation said, it has invested $1 million into 43 workforce development programs through the first and second rounds of its Workforce Solutions grant program.

Some of the programs that received grants in the latest round:

  • Bethesda in Willmar has been awarded $25,000 to improve employee satisfaction through an employee training and ambassador program through which it will work with a local community and technical college.
  • St. Mark’s Living in Austin will use $24,840 to reduce turnover by creating a mentoring program for new staff.
  • Ecumen Scenic Shores in Two Harbors will spend $23,450 on “experience camps” to introduce high school students to working in geriatric care and to help them develop work readiness skills.
  • Good Shepherd Lutheran in Sauk Rapids and Becker will use a $23,049 grant to create a promotional toolkit to build awareness of careers in caring for the aging while dispelling misconceptions of senior living long-term care employment. The funds also will be used to improve demographic targeting in recruiting efforts.
  • Minnewaska Community Health Services in Starbuck has been awarded $19,980 to apply a social marketing strategy to the recruitment of young workers for senior living services.
  • Villages of Lonsdale in Hayfield will use a $16,220 grant to try to improve employee satisfaction with workflow through mobile devices and electronic health records.

A seven-person independent review panel made decisions on awarding the grants from a pool of 36 applications based on factors such as the strength of the proposals, the innovativeness of the ideas and the mix of project topics, LeadingAge Minnesota said. The decisions were ratified by the foundation’s board of directors.