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Mars Hill University Receives $500,000 in Golden LEAF Funds for School of Nursing

Mars Hill University has received $500,000 in grant funding from Golden LEAF Foundation to support patient simulation equipment and other costs for the university's new Judge-McRae School of Nursing.Golden Leaf Check Nursing 1

The university was one of nine organizations across the state to receive funding from Golden LEAF’s Health Care Workforce Initiative.

“The Golden LEAF Foundation created a special health care initiative to help reduce deficits in the number of professional and highly skilled health care workers in rural, under-served areas of North Carolina,” said Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach. “Research has shown that residents trained in rural areas are more likely to practice in rural areas. Mars Hill University will be graduating 50 nurses a year who have trained locally once the program is fully operational."

According to Dr. Cathy Franklin-Griffin, dean of the Judge-McRae School of Nursing, the two-year, $500,000 grant monies support both the RN to BSN (registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing) program, which will begin in the summer of 2015, and the developing pre-licensure, traditional BSN program, which is anticipated to begin in fall 2016.

"We are most grateful for the grant award from Golden LEAF which provides start-up educational funding for the Judge-McRae School of Nursing," said Franklin-Griffin. "The grant monies support our nursing programs in meeting the outcomes of increasing the number of BSN-prepared registered nurses in western North Carolina, enhancing economic development, and focusing on health promotion through community engagement in a culturally sensitive and competent manner."

MHU's planned partnership with regional partners, like Mission Hospitals, the Madison County Health Consortium, Madison County Health Department, Hot Springs Health, VA Medical Center, Pardee Hospital, Haywood Regional Medical Center, Buncombe County Health Department and others, will promote health within communities throughout the region, she said.

MHU's nursing program will offer economic opportunity and development by training students to pursue a career with a starting salary of $45,000 to $60,000. This compares favorably with the average salary in the region, of around $35,000.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. Until 2013, the foundation received one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,310 grants worth over $572 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit or call 888.684.8404.