Scott Carpenter
The Union Democrat

HealthLitNow and Mother Lode Job Training have been awarded grants totalling nearly $230,000.

The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development awarded $12,000 to HealthLitNow, a nonprofit organization with offices on the third floor of the old Tuolumne General Hospital building.

A $217,000 grant from Motherlode Workforce Investment Board was shared by HealthLitNow and Mother Lode Job Training, which has a Sonora office on Mono Way.

HealthLitNow, established in December of 2014, is a public health nonprofit group based out of the Tuolumne County Innovation Lab.

It has two objectives, according to the group’s president, Barry Hillman: to increase health literacy among kids between kindergarten and 12th grade, and to increase awareness of employment opportunities in the healthcare industry.

Last year, HealthLitNow visited 13 schools across Tuolumne County, setting up hands-on workshops to educate kids on health care-related material. The group plans to use its new grant money to reinforce offerings in Tuolumne County and to expand into Calaveras County.

“This is a big deal,” said Hillman. “This is validation that what we’re doing really is significant, because we’ve applied now for nine grants and we’ve received eight of them, and this is the largest one.”

It works with or has received grants from an array of organizations, including the Tuolumne County Economic Authority, the Sonora Area Foundation and the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office.

Mother Lode Job Training, established in 1983, is charged with developing the area’s workforce, which includes partnering with businesses and making government services and programs more responsive to both businesses and job seekers.

Jeff Dickason, its executive director, said in a press release, “We are pleased to have such broad community and state support for our programs. A growing demand for healthcare workers provides an opportunity for area youth to remain in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties while earning a family wage income.”