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Parker Foundation Provides Opportunity for $1 Million Gift to Blackhawk Tech’s Top Nursing Program

June 25, 2018

Blackhawk Technical College’s nursing program has a lot to celebrate. In addition to the third consecutive semester of graduates achieving a 100% pass rate on the National Counsel Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the program received some great news for future students. The Parker Foundation has proposed a gift that would create a fund of up to $1 million in support of scholarships for the BTC nursing program students.

Building on an initial gift of $250,000 to establish The Nancy B. Parker Nursing Scholars, the Parker Foundation has committed to donating an additional $250,000, based on a challenge match to the local community, totaling $1,000,000. The Parker scholarship gift will be made in the name of Nancy B. Parker for her lifelong contributions to, and involvement with, nursing activities, including her service to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where she served on the Board of Trustees for many years.

George S. Parker, great-grandson to the founder of the Parker Pen Company, shared in a statement “the Parker Family has had an unwavering history of commitment for more than 100 years in support of the people of Janesville and Rock County. Today, with the increasing need for practical, technical, and vocational training for nurses in Rock County, our gift is critical in helping the College meet that need. Furthermore, our challenge is as much to the healthcare providers throughout the area to support the program and its graduates and to meet the employment requirements that changing demographics represent.”

Dr. Tracy Pierner, President of Blackhawk Technical College, acknowledged the importance of this commitment to the region’s economy and the lives of BTC’s students. “This gift will impact our community for generations to come by enabling access to education for many students who may not otherwise be able pursue a nursing path. Healthcare and retaining local talent are at the heart of our community’s success. Our challenge, as a college, will be to engage the discussion with every hospital, clinic, elder care facility, hospice, and any other health provider to seek out their financial and employment support.”

“Mr. Parker’s vision and passion for our community was evident from our first conversation. This gift and the long-term life-changing impact on our students demonstrates the Parker family’s understanding of the importance of education. Seeing the commitment that the Parker family has to the economic development and vitality of the Rock County community, it is an honor for BTC to be recognized as their partner in changing the lives of our students.”

Parker also commented on the economic impact of the gift. “Throughout  discussions with President Pierner, our focus has always been the employment rates and retention of nursing graduates in the community. These young people stay in Rock County, work in Rock County healthcare facilities, live here, buy groceries here and educate their children here. All of this is critically important to the vibrancy of Janesville as a community.“

“Mercyhealth is grateful to the Parker family for their generous donation,” said Sue Ripsch, Mercyhealth Senior Vice President and System Chief Nursing Officer. “This could not have come at a better time. Mercyhealth is experiencing an expanded need to hire nurses because of our growth. Nurses who receive scholarships to provide compassionate care in the community will be a wonderful way to honor the legacy of Nancy B. Parker.”

"Having skilled caregivers is integral to the long-term health of our community and this generous donation will enable Blackhawk Technical College to continue to support the ongoing educational needs of a new generation of nurses," said Eric Thornton, Blackhawk Technical College District Board Chairperson. "As a healthcare professional for SSM Health, we at St. Mary's Hospital-Janesville have benefitted greatly from close collaboration with many of Blackhawk's gifted nursing program graduates, so we too are extremely grateful for this investment in Rock County's good health.”

Tim McKevett, President and CEO, Beloit Health System commented, “the Beloit Health System is excited for the College to receive such a generous gift to advance the education of our nursing students within our community. As a longstanding partner with BTC during the clinical rotation of the students, it is easy to see the commitment to highest quality within the BTC nursing program. Blackhawk Technical College and the nursing program are critical to the continued success of the Beloit Health System in meeting the needs our community. We are proud to partner with BTC at both the educational level of their students and at the employer level as a recipient of their graduating nurses.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. Presently, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in U.S. history. It is projected that between 2010 and 2030, the population of senior citizens will increase by 75 percent to 69 million, meaning one in five Americans will be a senior citizen.

Parker summed up his comments by saying, “most importantly, as healthcare enters a new phase of dramatically increased demand, it is very important that Blackhawk be in a position to provide program graduates to serve the needs of southern Wisconsin. President Pierner’s understanding of the challenges and the ability of the College to respond were central to our decision to support the program.  It is our hope that community support through our challenge match will encourage everyone who can to participate.”

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