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St. Bonaventure University

SBU receives $250k educational grant from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation

Nov 01, 2023

St. Bonaventure University has received a $250,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to provide healthcare education in Cattaraugus County, a region with some of the highest rates of preventable diseases in New York state.

Students in the university’s Dennis R. DePerro School of Health Professions will partner with the Cattaraugus County Health Department to coordinate the educational efforts.

The grant will provide funding for staffing needs, intern salaries, housing stipends, and related program expenses to support a rural healthcare education internship program through a partnership with the CCHD.

“This grant provides a unique opportunity to improve the health of our community members with the collaboration between the university and county,” said Dr. Claire Watson, interim dean of the DePerro School of Health Professions. “The primary emphasis will be on training our health professions students who then can positively influence the health behaviors of our county residents.”

Cattaraugus County has among the highest rates in New York for chronic and preventable conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cancer hypertension and heart disease. The CCHD has an ambitious plan to lower the rates of the conditions through intensive educational efforts focused on modifiable risk behaviors including unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and tobacco use.

Ten students each semester from programs in the School of Health Professions will develop programs, plan for their administration, market the programs via platforms and avenues used by potential participants, offer the programs and analyze impact, attendance and participant learning.

A program director will be hired this month to coordinate these efforts and student involvement, while also working with the CCHD. The program will begin with the hiring of student interns and program delivery in the spring 2024 semester and will extend through spring of 2025.

“Having students from different health disciplines engage in creating and delivering health promotion seminars is an essential, and not always available, real-world learning experience,” Watson said. “This grant affords students a formative educational lesson now and will enhance their patient/population interactions and outcomes when they enter their professional careers.”

Students will utilize sites such as senior centers, libraries, local schools and Head Start locations to reach across all socioeconomic and age levels. Programs will include smoking cessation clinics, diabetes education, cancer screening, and immunization awareness.

Summer interns will be able to expand their reach to include the K-12 population who will be out of school for the summer.

The DePerro School of Health Professions has programs in health science, public health, physician assistant studies, occupational therapy and nursing.

Earlier this year, the university received a $500,000 Mother Cabrini Health Foundation grant to benefit 31 Pell-eligible students in the health professions and education who might not otherwise have been able to attend SBU.

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of vulnerable communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services.

Named after a tireless advocate for immigrants, children and the poor, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation funds programs and initiatives across New York state that either provide direct health care services or address the social determinants of health. For more information, visit


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. Out of 167 regional universities in the North, St. Bonaventure was ranked #6 for value and #14 for innovation by U.S. News and World Report (2024).