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Rounds With Leadership: Investing in the Future of Academic Nursing

Published May 27, 2020

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

May 27, 2020 - Investing in the Future of Academic Nursing

Since the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing deans and faculty have shown incredible leadership, resourcefulness, and compassion. Across the nation, we have received numerous reports detailing how these leaders have successfully adapted their programs to ensure that nursing students can continue their education and enter the workforce where their skills are greatly needed.


In recognition of her work to support the next generation of nursing leaders, AACN would like to extend its sincere gratitude to philanthropist Darlene Curley for initiating the COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund. This much needed program, which is administered by AACN’s Foundation for Academic Nursing, has brought a measure of financial relief to nursing students in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Ms. Curley’s generous donation has inspired almost two dozen additional individuals and organizations to contribute funding to this critical initiative. 

We are delighted to share with you the following post contributed by our benefactor Darlene Curley: 

With the pandemic expected to last through 2021 and beyond, philanthropic support for nurses confronting this public health crisis is more important than ever. We are counting on nurses today to help weather this challenge, and we need to take action now to ensure that nurses will be there for us tomorrow.

Like many Americans, I wanted to support our frontline healthcare workers during this time of need. I chose to focus on nursing students and therefore provided seed funding to launch the COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund at the AACN Foundation for Academic Nursing. The initial grant provided fifty $500 grants to students experiencing financial distress that could prevent them from completing their studies and graduating from school on time.  

Within just three weeks of announcing this new fund, more than 2,800 nursing students from all 50 states applied for 50 available grants. Students nationwide shared details about the variety of challenges they are facing, which include recovering from COVID-19, caring for family members who have the virus, struggling to meet expenses after losing a job and/or family support for education, and many other hardships.

Nursing students are worried about continuing their education, and we should be too.  For information about the Fund and how you can support this effort, see AACN's Foundation for Academic Nursing donation page or contact Marta Okoniewski, AACN’s Director of Student Engagement, at

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