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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Awards BSU $100,000 to Support Addictions Program


December 12, 2022

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University Department of Social Work was recently awarded a $100,000 grant by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota to train and support students pursuing the university’s addictions certificate program.

The grant will support up to 15 student scholarships and stipends, faculty staffing needs and program marketing expenses to grow the number of licensed alcohol and drug counselors (LADC) in the workforce, particularly rural Minnesota.

“Recruiting and retaining LADCs in rural Minnesota has been a long-standing issue,” Amanda Longie, assistant professor of social work and LADC liaison, said. “The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota grant has awarded us an opportunity to provide scholarships for students to meet the growing needs of individuals with substance abuse disorders in rural communities.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the state’s rural areas are served by approximately one LADC per 15,000 people, whereas the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has approximately one LADC for every 2,000 people.

BSU’s interdisciplinary addictions certificate provides students the knowledge and skills to provide substance abuse services to individuals and families. 96% of BSU students who earned certificates have passed the state of Minnesota’s LADC licensing exam since the program was created in 2019.

Zach Gordon, a BSU senior from Grand Rapids who is completing an addictions certificate, spoke about the need for licensed addiction counselors and his experience in the program.

“There’s a huge shortage of people going into this line of work, and the problem isn’t getting any smaller. It’s only growing,” he said. “Bemidji State offers a good program led by great people who offer a lot of support and care to their students. The faculty really understand the problem and bring a lot of experience to it.”


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