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4/14/2023 Legislators, McKee administration celebrate re-opening of Wavemaker Fellow Program: Program now also available to health care workers
STATE HOUSE – House Majority Leader Christopher Blazejewski and Senate Majority Leader Ryan Pearson joined Governor Dan McKee and Rhode Island Commerce today to celebrate the re-opening of applications for the Wavemaker Fellowship program, a competitive student loan reimbursement program for professionals working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), certain design fields, and for the first time, the healthcare sector.
“When I first sponsored legislation to create the Wavemaker Fellowship, we envisioned a program that would encourage students to enter fields vital to our economy,” said Leader Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence). “Right now, there are few careers more vital than health care. This is a great program and I’m excited it will now be available to our health care workforce.”
This Wavemaker Fellowship awards refundable tax credits of up to $6,000 per year for up to four years. This application cycle is open to STEM and commercial design professionals as well as health care workers, including but not limited to nurses, behavioral health professionals, chiropractors, dentists and dental hygienists, medical technicians, mental health counselors, occupational and physical therapists, pharmacists, physicians and speech-language pathologists. More information, including the application, is available at
“I was the Senate sponsor of the bill that established the Wavemaker Fellowship. Eight years later, I’m proud to see this program is still successfully supporting our young professionals,” said Leader Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln). “The COVID-19 pandemic placed a much-needed emphasis on public health efforts, and it’s more important than ever that Rhode Island retains our recent health care graduates. I have no doubt that this new application round will allow us to do just that.”
The maximum annual credit is $6,000 for graduate degree holders, $4,000 for bachelor's degree holders, and $1,000 for associate degree holders. Leader Pearson is proposing legislation (2023-S 0229) that would extend eligibility for the Wavemaker Fellowship Program to include teachers, with an emphasis on high-needs STEM subject areas.
This is the eighth round of Wavemaker Fellowship awards. The first seven iterations saw 1,168 professionals awarded student loan repayment for at least two years, with an average award of approximately $4,200 per year. Applicants are evaluated on a variety of criteria, but most importantly by their pursuit of careers in key industries and the impact of the award on the applicants' decisions to stay and work in Rhode Island.
“Health care workers are heroes, and we need recent graduates of health care programs to put their skills to work right here in Rhode Island,” said Governor McKee. “The Wavemaker Fellowship is designed to ease the burden of student loan debt, while helping Rhode Island retain the skilled talent that keeps our STEM and health care fields strong.”
“For years, the Wavemaker Fellowship has succeeded in attracting and retaining talented workers in the STEM fields. By expanding this program to cover health care workers in our newest cohort, we are better serving both our young professionals and the Rhode Islanders who rely on their care,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “We’re excited to continue growing the Wavemaker Fellowship to ensure our state has a strong workforce for our most in-demand industries.”
“Our Wavemaker fellows are living in Rhode Island and working in jobs they love with less student debt and more financial freedom,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner. “This program is a win for our workforce, our local economy, and the public health of our communities. I strongly encourage health care professionals to apply!”
“Supporting the future health care workforce is a key piece of EOHHS’ efforts to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to high quality health services and is part of our overall commitment to equity,” said Ana P. Novais, Secretary of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health & Human Services. “The new Wavemaker Healthcare Fellowships will help health care employers to recruit and retain recent health care graduates and ease workforce shortages while leveling the playing field for those who need financial support in order to begin their career.”

For more information, contact:
Fil Eden, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903