Goodwill Combats COVID-19 Healthcare Staff Shortage with Opus Foundation® Grant


​As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare systems are short-staffed and overwhelmed, including in central and southern Indiana. Recently the Opus Foundation awarded a $36,000 grant to Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana to fund a program that certifies people in entry-level healthcare positions to work directly with patients, providing them with better wages and opportunities for career expansion.

Workforce development is a prominent function of Goodwill – and it's one of five focus areas of the Opus Foundation. Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana has a longstanding reputation as a trusted provider of employment training and programs that empower people to increase their independence and reach their potential. The organization serves 12,500 individuals annually in 39 counties by graduating students from its high schools, deploying nurses to help underserved first-time mothers, and employing vulnerable community members at 70+ Goodwill retail stores, manufacturing sites and janitorial programs. 

Combatting Staff Shortages and Changing Lives Through Education

Amidst a challenging environment due to the pandemic, Goodwill's healthcare employer partners need additional staff to care for patients. To help fill the need, the Opus Foundation grant is funding a new program: Qualified Medication Aide (QMA) certification. QMAs are qualified to complete medical tasks such as passing oral medication, administering treatments and testing blood samples. The credential is stackable, so certified individuals qualify for better employment in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare entities. 

Candidates for QMA certification are currently working in entry-level healthcare positions earning only about $12 per hour. Once QMA certified, hourly wages increase to $15 to $20 per hour, moving participants into living wage jobs with benefits. The training takes only 6 – 10 weeks, which is shorter than many certification programs, so the payoff is substantial for the time invested. 

To provide the training, Goodwill is collaborating with Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis. Throughout the process, Goodwill provides participants with coaching and wrap-around services to remove barriers like lack of food, housing, transportation and childcare. To complete 40 hours of required work-based clinical learning, Goodwill connects participants with employer partners, followed by job placement, advancement services and retention coaching for the first year. 

“Opus' philanthropic support is essential to this work," said Nick Ison, Community Engagement Manager at Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana. “The generous grant is helping us deliver much-needed healthcare support to our communities, while providing hard-working Hoosiers with opportunities to expand their careers in order to better support themselves and their families." 

Goodwill expects at least 70% of participants will graduate with the QMA certificate and 100% of those will earn a job promotion or wage gain as a result of their new skills. To help sustain the program over time, Goodwill will work with the Indiana Department of Education to provide additional community members access to QMA certification training. 


The Opus Foundation is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation's work.