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Histotechnician Program Receives Heckscher Foundation Challenge Grant to Establish Training Programs in New York City and Rockland County

The Heckscher Foundation for Children has announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind workforce development program intended to create more than 1,100 full-time jobs for underserved young adults in New York State. The Heckscher Foundation Challenge is providing $7.6 million in grant funding to 20 colleges, community-based organizations, and one high school that have partnered with employers to train, mentor and provide full-time jobs to underprivileged youth. Young adults under the age of 25 participating in the programs will develop the necessary skills and receive the training required for success in today’s workforce.

The Heckscher Foundation’s unique initiative is a transformative grant model for work readiness and job placement programs. It differs from traditional models because a full-time job commitment from the employer partner is required to be considered for grant funding. This new initiative will provide job seekers with a clear path to a meaningful career – and offer a critical solution to ongoing workforce shortages.

As part of this program, SUNY Cobleskill is partnering with Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York University (NYU), Einstein, Montefiore Medical Centers, and Rockland Community College to establish NYC- and Rockland County-based histotechnician training programs. Histotechnicians prepare human and animal tissue samples for microscopic pathological examination, playing a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases by turning tissue samples into microscope slides. Once a tissue sample is taken from a patient, histology technicians are responsible for preparing microscopic slides, which a pathologist will examine for diagnostic or research purposes.

SUNY Cobleskill offers the only accredited, degree-granting Histotechnician program in New York State, a two-year Associates degree. In 2022, the College announced a new affiliation agreement with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, allowing students to complete their clinical training at MSK’s Mohs laboratory, surgical pathology laboratory, and cytopathology laboratory. The program has similar affiliations with leading hospitals across New York and in the state of Washington.

“In partnership with the Heckscher Foundation, we are building histotechnician training capacity for New York State while expanding our program’s reach directly into geographic areas in high need of trained histology professionals,” said SUNY Cobleskill President Dr. Marion Terenzio. “Histology is a field that is only continuing to grow, with more job openings than there are people to fill them. Working with the Heckscher Foundation and major players in our state’s healthcare system, we can boost access to education in this field and address a talent shortage at a critical stage in medical research and diagnosis.” 

“Traditional models for philanthropic workforce development have remained stagnant for decades, failing to produce adequate full-time job opportunities for the communities that need them the most,” said Peter Sloane, CEO of the Heckscher Foundation. “With an ongoing labor shortage, our new initiative comes at a critical time and serves as a model for shifting the paradigm of workforce development programming. We applaud our grantees and employer partners who are giving these young people a chance at a lifelong career, and we hope the initiative inspires others to adopt our approach of creating alternative paths to full-time employment.”

In January, the Heckscher Foundation began requesting grant proposals from New York high schools, colleges, and community-based organizations to address the serious misalignment between the skills of unemployed individuals and the surplus of available jobs in New York. Initially, the Heckscher Foundation intended to provide $3 million in grant funding, but an unprecedented interest from the community resulted in nearly 100 submitted applications. To meet the demand, the Heckscher Foundation increased available funding to $7.6 million.

The Heckscher Foundation awarded grants to organizations that are providing targeted training and partnering with employers committed to hiring based on strict guidelines, training milestones, skill mastery, and data-driven information on performance. Heckscher did not accept applications offering only internships or part-time employment to ensure the program created full-time job opportunities for young adults who want to pursue a meaningful career and achieve financial stability.

Participating employers represent various industry sectors, including hospitality, technology, construction, manufacturing, renewable energy and healthcare. Youth benefiting from the programs include those who are out of school, out of work, graduates from high school and college, and those with involvement in the legal and foster care systems. The program duration for the cohorts will be over a two-year time period.


About the Heckscher Foundation for Children
The Heckscher Foundation for Children uses venture philanthropy to fund innovative, results-driven programs and partnerships that level the playing field for underserved youth. Its grants focus primarily on education, including college access and persistence, workforce training and jobs access, and arts education that improves achievement in the classroom. Learn more at



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