In further efforts to combat the increasing worker shortage, as well as to create a better-educated workforce, M State and Ecumen have teamed up to create more incentive to work at the health care facility.
The two have begun collaborating to make a loan-free scholarship program for current Ecumen employees.
"When we started looking at the (Ecumen) workforce, it was like, 'Hey, we have an opportunity (here)'," said Laura Boreen, human resources director for Ecumen.
The hope with the collaboration being an increase in workers at the care facility as well as advancing the opportunities of those workers.
In the past, Ecumen has offered scholarships to employees taking classes at M State, but not like this.
Now, M State is actively recruiting students, letting them know about the opportunity, and Ecumen has made some changes on their end as well.
"This partnership goes well beyond a nursing program," said Boreen, adding that in the past people have thought that since they aren't going to school to become a nurse they weren't eligible for the scholarship.
Not every M State student in every major is eligible, but students with majors in health care, business, IT, finance, dietary, education, and therapy-based majors are now eligible for the financial assistance.
"They can be a dining assistant (at Ecumen), while they're going to school for IT," said Boreen.
Ecumen has also made the scholarship requirements less rigid in other areas as well. For example, now workers only have to work 10 hours per week to get the college funding.
And both Ecumen and students are reaping the rewards.
"This gives them (students) a clear path. It shows them how you can grow within an organization," said Karen Buboltz, director of student development services with M State, adding that it also helps those students get work experience in addition to graduating debt free.
Since collaborating with the secondary schooling establishment, Ecumen has increased their workforce and scholarship payout from $7,500 in 2015 to $26,000 in fall of 2016, and they haven't capped their payout for the year-round funding opportunity.
"There's no deadline. The scholarships are just open enrolling," said Boreen. "We will just continue paying the scholarships as they come in."
As for other businesses interested in pairing with M State in a similar scholarship opportunity to encourage students, Buboltz says they are interested and willing.