Report: ARRIBA program that helps low-income students in nursing schools has an impact of $ 893 million | Local News

The ARRIBA project has been working quietly with the leaders of El Paso to help hundreds of students, mostly Hispanic, from poor families, through nursing school and to radically change their lives since 1998.

They’ve been there so quietly that they hardly stand out publicly anymore. But they have been busy.

The Hunt Institute of Global Competitiveness at the University of Texas at El Paso released a study last month that found that for every dollar invested in the ARRIBA project, $ 28 is donated to the region. ARRIBA has added $ 893 million to El Paso’s economy in income for graduates from the program since 1995, according to the report.

The nonprofit recently received a $ 250,000 grant from the Bank of America for regional workforce development to address “a shortage of health workers at a critical time.”

The El Paso region has long suffered from a severe shortage of nurses, but since the novel coronavirus debuted, the shortage has worsened. And El Paso hospitals, like many others across America, are short by hundreds of registered nurses.

“This grant will help guide underemployed communities to stable, well-paying jobs that have a direct impact on the region’s success,” the announcement said. “In El Paso, 45% of the region’s Hispanic population has no education beyond high school, and 45% of poor households are headed by women.

El Paso businessman Woody Hunt endorsed the organization in the announcement, saying, “Project ARRIBA has become a crucial community partner helping to train the next generation of healthcare workers who are coming to of and understand the unique needs of our region.

“We are delighted to see their work and impact grow through the investment Bank of America is making in their successful model. “

The name of ARRIBA comes from Les Parker, now a retired banker, who was then part of the first board of directors, and thought of a name and an acronym too good to be ignored: Advanced Retraining and Redevelopment Initiative in Border Areas.

ARRIBA grew out of a social justice organization that the Catholic Diocese of El Paso formed in 1985, known as the El Paso Interfaith Sponsorship Organization, or EPISO. It is now called EPISO-Border Interfaith because churches of other denominations have joined.

Roman Ortiz, ARRIBA CEO for 13 years, said they would expand the program to help students complete four-year college programs and become teachers.

“We could help them make the transition from community college to university, and we would follow them until we got them a job here at a local school,” he said. “Right now, we are placing our healthcare professionals twice as fast as this time last year.

“Our people have great jobs that, on average, make close to $ 50,000 a year. They entered ARRIBA earning $ 7,500 per year.

For these students and their families, he said, “It’s a huge return on investment that changes their entire family paradigm. “

ARRIBA is changing the lives of young adults like Angela Lopez, 19, who completed college nursing courses at Valle Verde Early College High School and earned an Associate’s Degree in Nursing in 2019.

Now working at El Paso Children’s Hospital, Lopez will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in December from Texas Tech University’s nursing program and a two-year contract at $ 40,250 per year.

“That’s all because a community college counselor told me I could apply for the ARRIBA project,” Lopez said. “I wouldn’t be able to graduate in December without the money they gave me.

Her goal is to obtain a doctorate in nursing. Then she would have the title of Doctor of Nursing Practice with “Dr. next to her name.”

She also wants to stay at El Paso Children’s, which was desperate to fill 157 nursing positions two weeks ago.

New students often need the kind of help they can’t get at home and that’s where case managers like ARRIBA’s Priscilla Estrada come in.

She is one of five ARRIBA Case Managers who work with 30 to 60 students each at Texas Tech to help them develop life skills and professional skills, starting three months before they enter college for s make sure they are ready.

“I have to meet them every week,” Estrada said, as the students usually come from families with no education or money. “Money management is very important, as well as time management and stress management to keep them from getting burned out. “

ARRIBA also helps with tuition, $ 6,500 per semester at Texas Tech, as well as expenses such as books and uniforms.

Another of ARRIBA’s many success stories is Emmanuel Muñiz, a 33-year-old nurse who graduated from Texas Tech in September but is originally from Juárez.

“I was born there and went to school,” he said. “When I turned 18 in 2006, my parents got the call for permanent residence, and I was with this package.”

He went to UTEP, got a degree in biology, and after a few years of working as a clinical allergy technician, he decided to go to nursing school.

The ARRIBA project helped with orientation and came to the rescue when he and his wife ran out of money.

“They graciously helped me complete my nursing education,” he said. “Without them I’m not sure I would have been successful.”

He graduated in August 2014 and had a job a week later.

“My first check was for $ 2,100,” he said. “I went from nothing to $ 2,100. “

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