Peg’s Foundation Gifts Kent State’s College of Nursing $165,000 Grant to Advance Mental Health Care in Northeast Ohio

Kent State University’s College of Nursing recently received a grant totaling $165,000 from Peg’s Foundation, formerly the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, a private grant-making foundation that supports mental health programs in Northeast Ohio. 

Wendy Umberger, Ph.D., RN, PMHCNS-BC, associate dean for graduate programs, and Lisa Onesko, DNP, APRN-BC, director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and associate professor, received $105,000, payable over three years to continue the Peg’s Foundation traineeship program for graduate students pursuing a master’s degree in nursing as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). This funding will enable the college to offer 10 full-time and 15 part-time traineeships to highly qualified PMHNP students during each academic year. An additional $60,000 was received for two Doctor of Nursing Practice scholar awards. Each recipient will receive $30,000 over the course of two semesters ($15,000 for tuition and $15,000 for stipend) and complete a scholarly project that enhances mental health outcomes or mental health care policy. 

A generous donor to Kent State’s College of Nursing, Peg’s Foundation has been supporting the college for more than 12 years. Over 70 students have benefited from more than $400,000 in financial assistance.  

“Financial support from Peg’s Foundation encourages nurses to return to school for psychiatric mental health,” said Thom Craig, director of mental health programs for Peg’s Foundation. “By supporting Kent State University College of Nursing students, we are helping to attract, educate and keep advanced practice nurses in Northeast Ohio. Upon graduation, these students will be providing care and treatment for individuals living with mental illness or addiction, and complex health issues, especially those who reside in underserved communities.” 

Two-time alum Josh Black, PMHNP, APRN, a previous PMHNP student and Peg’s Foundation grant recipient, learned about this opportunity from his professors. While receiving assistance with tuition initially sparked his interest, Black was also drawn to Peg’s Foundation because of its mission to improve the lives of people in Northeast Ohio living with mental illness. 

“Financial support from Peg’s Foundation allowed me to reduce my work hours and dedicate that time to studying,” Black said. “I also met new individuals in my community and made a difference in their lives.” 

As a grant recipient, Black was required to meet a specific number of volunteer hours, 15 hours for full-time students and eight hours for part-time students, each semester he received funding. Black volunteered with a National Alliance on Mental Illness walk at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio; assisted in organizing an ongoing support group for previous patients at Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital Behavioral Health Center in Dover, Ohio; and he set up a booth and provided mental health screenings, education and information about resources at a suicide awareness walk in Tuscarawas County.

“Everyone has anxiety and depression to a degree,” Black said. “I like providing education to people and helping them understand that stress happens to everyone. However, some people may find themselves in situations without the proper support. I want to help those people develop coping skills and identify support groups. Educating just one patient can have a ripple effect on multiple people throughout our community.” 

Jim K. Tudhope, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, was the first Peg’s Foundation DNP scholar recipient. He also learned about the funding from the Kent State nursing faculty. 

“I had been contemplating when to pursue my DNP degree for some time, however, my biggest obstacle was funding,” Tudhope said. “I did not want to go further into student debt. When I heard about an opportunity to pursue my DNP degree with funding through the grant from Peg’s Foundation, I knew I had to investigate further.”

For his scholarly project, Tudhope created an Integrated Community Psychiatry Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Program designed for recently graduated PMHNPs to help improve competencies, self-confidence and role socialization over the course of their first year of practice in an outpatient community mental health integrated care center.

“My project had an immediate impact and helped Northeast Ohio by increasing access to, and the quality of, evidence-based psychiatric nursing services to community members with serious mental illness in an integrated care-setting,” Tudhope said. “Additionally, it improved PMHNP retention and decreased vacancies and expanded PMHNP competencies and confidence through a structured program and nationally recognized accreditation process.” 

This map shows the impact of Peg's Foundation support of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Traineeships since 2009.

With the assistance of Kent State Foundation Relations, the college recently produced a map showcasing the communities its graduates are working in and the continuous impact Peg’s Foundation traineeships are making in Northeast Ohio. Many previous recipients were clustered around Cuyahoga, Geauga, Summit, Stark, Portage, Columbiana and Mahoning counties.

“When students are supported by Peg’s Foundation, they develop a strong connection to their communities so it’s not surprising to see many have chosen to continue their careers here in Northeast Ohio,” Umberger said. “It has been a great help to the college as well. After a year of practice as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, we have asked many of our alums to step into leadership roles as mentors and preceptors for our current PMHNP students.”

Reflecting on their time as Peg’s Foundation recipients, both Black and Tudhope were in agreement: More students would benefit from this traineeship program. 

“Other students should apply for Peg’s Foundation funding because it is good to get out into the community,” Black said. “As students, we have a tendency to focus solely on our schoolwork and our job as nurses, but it was great to have new experiences with community members. My volunteer work made me more aware of individuals in my community who need assistance, especially those who may not have the means to been seen in a healthcare facility.” 
“The DNP program at Kent was wonderful; it was by far the most enjoyable educational experience I have ever had,” Tudhope said. “The opportunity for a student to partner with Peg’s Foundation, improve the lives of Northeast Ohioans living with mental illness and further their professional growth and development should not be missed.”

For more information about Peg’s Foundation, visit

For more information about Kent State’s College of Nursing, visit

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About Kent State University’s College of Nursing
In existence for more than 50 years, the College of Nursing at Kent State University is one of the largest and most comprehensive nursing programs in the nation with more than 13,500 alumni worldwide. As part of Kent State’s eight-campus system, the college provides more than 2,000 nursing students courses of study at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels. To learn more about nursing programs at Kent State, please visit  

Image Caption:
This map shows the impact of Peg’s Foundation support of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Traineeships since 2009.

Media Contacts:
Mariah Gibbons,, 330-672-8756
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 2:42pm
UPDATED: Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 2:58pm
Mariah Gibbons