top of page

Forward Careers Awarded $2.4 Million to Expand Nursing Programs

Forward Careers has been awarded a $2.4 million Nursing Expansion Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support training programs and to diversify the pipeline of nursing professionals while advancing equity and creating pathways for workers to fill these jobs and improve the nation’s healthcare system. The award is 1 of 25 grants that were issued nationally. DOL has awarded more than $78 million to nursing expansion programs across 17 states.

The 2023 Wisconsin Health Care Workforce Report indicates that the gap between hires and job openings on a national level has significantly increased from 578,000 in 2019 to over 1 million by the end of 2021, and in 2022 doubled to almost 2 million. This report also found that there is a critical shortage of nurses in Wisconsin, with registered nurse vacancy rates in the double digits for the first time since 2007. Current labor market data expects a deficit of 20,000 nurses by 2040 in Wisconsin alone.

“Supporting nurses and other health professionals is critical to maintaining a quality health care system. As we see a greater number of retirements, coupled with the labor shortage, we are focused on innovative strategies to appeal to our current and upcoming workforce. This grant will support the creation of equitable training opportunities targeting underserved individuals to strengthen and grow the next generation of the nursing workforce,” said Cindy Simons, President of Forward Careers.

The NEXT (Nursing. Equity. eXpansion. Training.) program will tackle the need for more nurses and other healthcare related occupations through a multi-facet approach based on new innovative strategies and training activities that have proven to be successful. Through a mix of occupational skills training, on-the-job training, work experiences, and incumbent worker training, Forward Careers will help support 165 individuals through training and advance them into middle to high-skilled positions.

The NEXT program will be implemented over the next five years in collaboration with Moraine Park Technical College and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. WOW Works, Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, Wisconsin Center for Nursing, and the Wisconsin Hospital Association will be key contributors to gather real-time data and feedback for the development of robust training programs.

Additional details about the Nursing Expansion Grant can be viewed at



Forward Careers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with over 30 years of experience administering and providing employment and training services across Southeastern Wisconsin. Established in 1990, our mission is to develop a thriving workforce and strong economy by being the preferred source for career exploration, education, skills training, and employment connections to every person and business.



bottom of page