Kaiser Permanente and Colorado Mountain College collaborated to distribute the following release.

Funds will be awarded as scholarships to students enrolled in health science programs at Colorado Mountain College 

DENVER – Kaiser Permanente has announced new grant funding for students studying in community college health science programs on the Western Slope. A $90,000 matching grant will be available for scholarships at Colorado Mountain College and Western Colorado Community College.

This new funding is in addition to a $1.5 million investment to the member colleges of the Colorado Community College System from Kaiser Permanente for the Campaign for Colorado Community Colleges. These funds were first awarded in 2013 to 13 CCCS colleges primarily along the Front Range and on the eastern plains. The overwhelming success of the program has prompted this new expansion to serve students at Colorado Mountain College and Western Colorado Community College, bringing the number of schools receiving these grants to 15. Colorado’s community colleges serve 160,000 students statewide, making them the largest provider of higher education in the state.

Kaiser Permanente’s investment is the largest gift received by the Campaign for Colorado Community Colleges to date. Structured as a challenge gift, Kaiser Permanente’s investment will be matched dollar for dollar by donors located in the communities served by the community colleges.

“We are tremendously grateful for Kaiser Permanente’s vision in supporting the students of Colorado Mountain College,” said CMC President Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser. “The need has never been greater. There is a growing gap between the need for educated workers and the educational attainment of Coloradans. To help close this gap, our trustees are committed to keeping our tuition and fees among the most affordable in the state. Yet even as affordable as our tuition remains, many of our students require scholarships to enroll in and complete their studies. Those in our nursing program, in particular, undertake rigorous course loads, which means they must greatly reduce or eliminate their working hours.”

“We encourage our nursing students not to work more than 20 hours a week because of the requirements for gaining clinical experience,” said Betty Damask-Bembenek, EdD, MN, RN, director of nursing education at Colorado Mountain College. “Many also incur travel costs because they are doing their clinicals in various health care settings across the Western Slope. So for these reasons, we are especially grateful for the scholarships we’ll now be able to offer to our students.”

Almost half of the students attending Colorado community colleges are studying health science. Kaiser Permanente’s investment will support students earning degrees in areas such as nursing, physician assistance, dental hygiene, addiction counseling and health information technology degrees. Scholarships will be awarded statewide, with a specific focus on reaching students studying or living in communities where there is a shortage of medical professionals.

“Colorado’s community colleges are key players in workforce development,” said Donna Lynne, DrPH, president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “More than 90 percent of students earning associate degrees at Colorado community colleges remain in the state after graduation. These are educated, skilled workers our business community needs. Kaiser Permanente is thrilled to partner with community colleges to ensure more students are able to enter the health care workforce and make a difference in the communities where they live and work.”

As tuition at four-year educational institutions continues to rise, community colleges serve as important educational options for students looking to succeed in a competitive workforce. Colorado’s community colleges train more than half the state’s nurses and 90 percent of its first responders. More than 5.6 million new health care jobs will be located in the U.S. by 2016.

“At Colorado Mountain College, we are training students to have the basic and advanced skills needed to be successful in a 21st century global economy,” said Hauser. “Studies have shown that college graduates earn as much as  $1 million more over the course of a working lifetime than someone with a high school diploma. This illuminates the value of a post-secondary education and training, particularly for the health care industry as educated workers are needed now more than ever.”

Kaiser Permanente, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, is committed to strengthening Colorado’s higher education systems through a variety of efforts. The health plan issued a $2.4 million grant in 2009 to establish the Interdisciplinary Rural Training and Service Program (IRTS) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, which trains pharmacy, dental, and medical professionals interested in rural health practices. In 2010, Kaiser Permanente announced a $1 million grant to provide more than 100 scholarships to students pursuing degrees in nursing or allied health at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado State University Pueblo and Pueblo Community College who commit to working at least two years in a designated safety net clinic post-graduation.

In addition to Kaiser Permanente, contributors to the Campaign for Colorado Community Colleges include The Anschutz Foundation, The Colorado Department of Education – Race To The Top, the Courtenay C. and Lucy Patten Davis Foundation, the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation and hundreds of donors statewide.  In total, $3.75 million has been donated to the Campaign for Colorado Community Colleges in its first two years.

Scholarships funded through Kaiser Permanente’s investment will be awarded to students attending 15 of Colorado’s community colleges. These schools include:

  • Arapahoe Community College
  • Colorado Mountain College
  • Colorado Northwestern Community College
  • Community College of Aurora
  • Community College of Denver
  • Front Range Community College
  • Lamar Community College
  • Morgan Community College
  • Northeastern Junior College
  • Otero Junior College
  • Pikes Peak Community College
  • Pueblo Community College
  • Red Rocks Community College
  • Trinidad State Junior College
  • Western Colorado Community College

About Kaiser Permanente Colorado

Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, proudly working to improve the lives and health of Colorado residents for more than 45 years. Kaiser Permanente Colorado provides comprehensive health care services to 625,000 members through 29 medical offices and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians. Kaiser Permanente was recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as the top- ranked commercial health plan in Colorado and the sixth ranked Medicare plan in the nation for 2014-15. Kaiser Permanente was also recently recognized as a 2012 Hypertension Champion by Million Hearts™. In 2014, Kaiser Permanente proudly directed $100 million to community benefit programs to improve the health of all Coloradans. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit or follow us on Twitter @kpcolorado or