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Generous Grant Spurs West Side Youth Vitality

Educational attainment is the greatest driver in increasing life expectancy. It links individuals to living wage employment, expands career paths and provides access to health insurance and additional social determinants of health. This is especially true in low-income communities, such as Chicago’s West Side, which is home to the Rush Education and Career Hub, or REACH.

REACH supports education from cradle to career by providing innovative, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, learning to under-represented youth so they can reach their academic and professional potential. The program increases student interest in STEM careers and postsecondary education, while also bridging the gap for the future health care workforce — a crucial need as health care jobs grow substantially, but low college graduation rates continue to limit students’ access to these careers. The program is made possible in part by a nearly $800,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The funding from the Gates Foundation is an investment in improving outcomes for our youth and our collective prosperity,” said Rukiya Curvey Johnson, director of the Rush Education and Career Hub. “Their support contributes to our broader goals of achieving health equity and building strong citizen health care leaders for the future.”

The Rush Place-Based Pathways Program, created from the foundation’s grant, uses the local community and cultural environment as a starting point to teach health sciences concepts across the education continuum. The program also provides work-based learning experiences. Projects, programs and internships encourage partnerships among students, teachers and community members that strengthen student achievement, community vitality and a sustainable path forward.

The foundation’s support will allow Rush to engage with industry partners on best practices, industry trends and innovative solutions to benefit youth and the health care industry as a whole.

As longtime advocates of America’s education system and its most vulnerable communities, the Gates Foundation will play an integral role in helping Rush remove key barriers to education and career success, while propelling the opportunity for Chicago’s youth to live long, healthy and prosperous lives.


Contact Rush’s Office of Philanthropy at (312) 942-6830 to support Chicago’s West Side students and our future health care workforce through REACH.