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In full transparency, the following is a press release from Framingham State University submitted to SOURCE media.


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FRAMINGHAM – Framingham State University, in partnership with Accelerate The Future (ATF), a private family foundation, recently received $1.39 million from the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) to diversify and expand the state’s pipeline of behavioral health specialists.

The money will help place 300 employees at local community health organizations into Framingham State University’s master’s degree program in mental health counseling. An emphasis will be placed on recruiting and retaining black, Indigenous and people of color, bilingual, and culturally responsive behavioral health employees.

“We are extremely grateful to HHS for supporting this important program,” said Framingham State President Nancy Niemi. “Our goal is to help resolve the severe shortage of licensed mental health counselors serving in low-income communities. This is one of the many steps forward we can take.”

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The grant helps build upon a pilot program that FSU is operating, in partnership with ATF, that is providing 60 employees at three community health organizations (Children’s Services of Roxbury, The Home for Little Wanderers, and the MA Association of Community Health Workers) with full scholarships to receive their master’s degrees in Mental Health Counseling. The program is taught onsite at each of the partner non-profit organizations (In the case of the MA Association of Community Health Workers it is entirely online), providing easier travel and learning convenience to the graduate students.

In partnership with ATF, FSU has significantly reduced tuition from $20,000 to $13,000 for the full three-year program.

Additional funding to further reduce costs is available for students entering the program in 2024 and 2025, given from foundations and in affordable cost sharing opportunities with community health organizations and their employees enrolled in the program.

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Thanks to the HHS funding, the “Diversifying and Expanding the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Pipeline” program will expand to partner with up to 12 more
community health organizations, whose employees stand to benefit from the opportunity to rise in their careers.

“Our innovative program will make obtaining a master’s degree and becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor affordable and accessible for community mental health workers, who often face barriers to higher education,” said Professor Deborah McMakin, Coordinator of the Counseling Psychology Program at FSU. “Once students graduate and obtain licensure, they can expand their roles with their current employer, filling open positions, and reducing wait times for mental health counseling.”

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Framingham State University, Accelerate The Future (ATF), and their community partners have already made significant financial and administrative commitments to the pipeline program and sought the support of HHS to fund some positions critical to its expansion. They include a program director, program advisor, assistant director of recruitment, and administrative assistant.

To learn more about the Counseling Psychology program, reach out to Michael Merriam at or if you are interested in your non-profit becoming a satellite location for the program, please reach out to Ross Lohr at or Dr. Deborah McMakin at

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.