Program Description


Project FUTRE is designed to enhance and expand behavioral health paraprofessionals’ knowledge, skills, and expertise. It aims to increase the number of behavioral health-related paraprofessionals qualified to provide services to children and families who are impacted by opioid use disorders (OUD) and other substance use disorders (SUD). There are two Levels to complete in Project FUTRE: Level I: Pre-apprenticeship and Level II: Apprenticeship. More details are outlined below.

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Level I Pre-apprenticeship: Consists of 6-months of classroom learning and hands-on experiences at a behavioral health agency or integrated health care provider.
Level II Apprenticeship: Paid, full-time, 12-month placements, working on-site with a behavioral health agency or integrated healthcare provider.

Time Commitment

Level I Pre-apprenticeship: 5-10 hours per week for 6 months, total of 168 hours (144 classroom and 24 professional shadowing hours)
Level II Apprenticeship: 40 hours per week, for 12 months, total of 1856 hours

Financial Support

Level I Pre-apprenticeship ($5,000): Trainees will receive $750 dollars monthly for 6 months from The University of Arizona, as long as Trainees complete the monthly hours and coursework, per Project FUTRE expectations. If the Trainee completes the Pre-apprenticeship, the Trainee will receive a $500 completion bonus from The University of Arizona. Total potential of $5,000 for the 6-month Level I Pre-apprenticeship. Participants will receive a scholarship that will cover the full cost of training.
Level II Apprenticeship (Salary + $500): Trainees will be placed in full-time paid apprenticeships with a behavioral health agency or integrated healthcare provider. Typical pay in Southern Arizona as a Behavioral Health Paraprofessional is $12-$15 dollars/hour. The hourly pay/salary and benefits will be set by the partner organization. If the Trainee completes the Apprenticeship, the Trainee will receive a $500 completion bonus from The University of Arizona.


Rita Romero is an instructor at the University of Arizona’s Workforce Development Program, where she trains individuals with lived experience of mental illness and/or substance use disorders to be employed as Behavioral Health Specialists within the behavioral healthcare system. Rita is passionate about recovery-oriented practice and strives to empower individuals to reach their goals.
Prior to WDP, Rita worked at NAMI Southern Arizona as Training Manager. At NAMI, Rita had the opportunity to teach their peer education programs as a state trainer. She enjoyed the opportunity to mentor individuals, training them in facilitation and Behavioral Health Medical Record Documentation, to help them prepare for employment in the field.
Rita has received certifications as a Recovery Support Specialist, Parent and Family Support Specialist, Advanced Level WRAP facilitator, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language studies.

David E. Delawder is an instructor at the University of Arizona’s Workforce Development Program. Prior to WDP, Dave has served as National Alliance on Mental Illness Southern Arizona (NAMISA) as the Program Director of all the education, support and advocacy NAMISA provides to the Tucson community.
He continues to serve the community as President of the Board of Directors of NAMISA.  He is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) and was elected to become the Arizona Chapter Representative of AAPRP to PRA.
Dave says that one of his greatest pleasures—along with photography and music—is helping others discover their strengths, negotiate successfully the complex human services system, and move forward on their own recovery journey.

Community Partners

Project Future is supported  by the following healthcare organizations in Pima and Santa Cruz counties:

  • COPE Community Services
  • Mariposa Community Health Center
  • MHC Health Care
  • CODAC Health Recovery & Wellness
  • Banner Whole Health Clinic
  • El Rio Health


Because we seek a workforce with a wide range of perspectives and experiences, we provide equal employment opportunities to applicants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. We actively seek individuals who have experience living and working with diverse populations. Those with lived experience of substance use disorder (either self or family members) are encouraged to apply.