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Women executives pose with ceremonial big check
Pictured L to R: Mid-Carolina AHEC Director Cheri Plyler; Power:Ed Executive Director Claire Gibbons; UMRHN Executive Director Karen Nichols; and North Central Family Medicine Ass’t Executive Director & COO Roxan Rawlinson-Ray

CHESTER, SC – December 4, 2023  – The Upper Midlands Rural Health Network (UMRHN), has been awarded a $28,000 grant from Power:Ed, the philanthropy of SC Student Loan Corporation, to support rural health workforce development initiatives. The funding will play a crucial role in advancing its efforts to empower and uplift communities through education and professional training.

It will be dedicated to increasing preceptorship opportunities for Nurse Practitioner Students for the calendar year beginning January 1, 2024. UMRHN has partnered with Mid-Carolina Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and North Central Family Medicine (NCFMC) to ensure preceptorship opportunities enhance workforce skills, foster economic growth, and create sustainable opportunities in rural areas served by their organizations. This collaboration exemplifies a shared commitment to bridging educational gaps, promoting workforce development, and fostering community resilience.

“Along with our partners NCFMC and Mid-Carolina AHEC, we are thrilled this grant will enable UMRHN to expand and enhance our collective efforts to build a skilled and empowered rural workforce,” said UMRHN Executive Director Karen Nichols. “UMRHN is grateful for Power:Ed’s dedication to investing in the future of rural areas and for recognizing the importance of workforce development in sustaining vibrant SC communities. This support aligns perfectly with UMRHN’s mission to create lasting, positive impacts in the communities it serves.“

The PowerEd grant will specifically provide support for the creation of six new nurse practitioner preceptorship openings at NCFM, development of a feasibility study that outlines the costs associated with preceptorships, creation of a resource guide to help NPs navigate and streamline the complexities and process of securing preceptor, and provision of a case study to document the processes, challenges, and successes of the project.

UMRHN plans to kick off these initiatives in January 2024. Community members and stakeholders are encouraged to stay tuned for updates on the progress of these initiatives and how they can get involved.

“We are so excited about the transformative impact this workforce development pilot program could have for rural communities across South Carolina,” said Power:Ed Executive Director Claire Gibbons. “It addresses the critical shortage of needed health care professionals, improves health care access, and greatly enhances the community’s well-being.

In FY2023-24 Power:Ed will award $1,000,000 in grants to South Carolina education and career readiness nonprofit organizations. In this second quarter, Power:Ed has awarded eight grants (including this grant to UMRHN), totaling $287,000. Grants are administered quarterly, and the next grant funding deadline is January 1, 2024.

About Upper Midlands Rural Health Network
A three-county network of health, human service, and educational providers located in Chester, Fairfield, and Lancaster counties in north central South Carolina. Established in 2004, UMRHN is a 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to improving access to health care and securing healthcare safety nets.

Mid-Carolina AHEC
A 501(c) (3) non-profit organization serving 11 counties in central South Carolina: Aiken, Cherokee, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Newberry, Richland, Union and York. As a member of South Carolina AHEC, Mid-Carolina AHEC, Inc. provides three core services: Continuing Education, Health Professions Student, and Health Careers Exploration.

North Central Family Medicine
A private, 501 (c) (3) non-profit community-based health center offering full spectrum primary healthcare to patients covering all stages of life from pediatric conditions to senior health care.  NCFM has been serving York and Chester County communities since 1992.

About Power:Ed
Founded in 2019, Power:Ed, the philanthropy of SC Student Loan is dedicated to creating opportunities for South Carolina’s youth and adults by supporting low-income, minority, and first-generation students; improving access to college and degree completion; and creating pathways to quality workforce opportunities. Organizations serving middle school through post-college talent who are interested in applying for a grant or partnering with Power:Ed, should visit

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