SUN PATH consortium met at SFCC on Sept. 5, shared final progress report

SUN PATH Consortium shared its final progress report at a day-long statewide meeting at SFCC on Sept. 5. Throughout the state, 11 colleges participated under the statewide umbrella overseen at SFCC under the direction of Kristen Krell.   As the funding ends, the statewide meeting addressed the successes of the program and the next steps for SUN PATH Healthcare, as well as the Workforce Training pipeline.  The program, which worked at filling the critical need for more trained health care workers operated on an Integrated Education Training Model (I-BEST) where students simultaneously studied math and English along with their health care subject area to complete certificates and degrees.  Also, key to the program was that a job development coach with Workforce Solutions (Thaddeus “Ted” Lech at SFCC) was available on each campus to assist in job placement.

SUN PATH director Kristen Krell shared in her report, “The ultimate goal of SUN PATH has been to strengthen the talent pipeline for the healthcare sector resulting in increased attainment of degrees, certifications and industry recognized credentials that lead to improved employment outcomes and average earnings for New Mexicans. In the past four years, SUN PATH has exceeded almost all of the performance targets of proposed in the grant. In total, SUN PATH served 4,266 students with 2,792 program completers and 3,125 credentials earned. Of those students, 604 employed students became employed after program completions, and 2002 who were already employed, received a wage increase post-enrollment.”

Results from a comparison study of the New Mexico SUN PATH Consortium found that:
• SUN PATH students completed a certificate or degree at a 34 percent higher rate, when compared to similar non-participants.
• SUN PATH participants who were unemployed at enrollment, became employed after program completion at a 14 percent higher rate when compared to similar non-participants.
• The average overall gain in salary for SUN PATH students was almost $1000 per quarter compared to $700 for non-participants.

New Mexico First, a public policy organization, partnered with SUN PATH to host the final statewide meeting in an effort to identify the successful strategies to more effectively align higher education and workforce services with industry needs in high demand sectors such as healthcare.  Jennifer Freeman, Program Director from Jobs for the Future provided a national perspective on “sector strategies” such as SUN PATH that are being adopted across the country that are meeting the needs of employers and creating greater economic opportunities for residents. In the afternoon, participants developed plans to sustain and expand successful components of SUN PATH, that New Mexico First intends to use to develop legislation in an effort to strengthen the career pathway and talent pipeline system in New Mexico.

Congratulations to SUN PATH Director Kristen Krell, who has led the successful statewide consortium from our campus.  Also, kudos to others on the SFCC campus who contributed to the success of the program:  Jenny Landen, principal investigator (as well as Carmen Gonzales, former principal investigator prior to her retirement), SUN PATH program manager Carla Slentz, Data manager & Programmer Analyst Tricia Kattell and Administrative Coordinator Margaretmary Woodd.  Also, a thank you to SFCC’s SUN PATH coordinator Cheryl Peachey.

To find out more about SUN PATH see this story, “SUN PATH program improves lives and strengthens health care” and opinion piece: “Sustain path to improve lives and strenghthen health care.”