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St. David’s Foundation Grants Will Increase Number of Social Workers Serving Critical Roles

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St. David's Foundation Bilingual Social Work Scholars

Members of the first cadre of St. David's Foundation Bilingual Social Work Scholars.


St. David’s Foundation has given more than $2 million to help the School of Social Work increase the number of social workers serving critical roles in Central Texas.

With a $2 million grant — the largest in the school’s history — the foundation will endow fellowships for bilingual master’s degree students to meet the growing need for Spanish-speaking social workers. The grant will sustain the bilingual scholars program, distributing $10,000 each year to 10 master’s students who intend to provide health and mental health services to Spanish-speaking clients in Central Texas. The 10 fellowship students will serve about 5,000 hours each year as interns in the community.

In addition, a $50,000 grant from St. David’s Foundation will fund fellowships for 15 master’s degree students in the school’s Gerontology Resources and the Aging Community in Education (GRACE) program in 2012-2013.

“This is a historic moment for the School of Social Work and our master of science in social work program,” Dean Luis H. Zayas says. “The generosity and foresight of the St. David’s Foundation will help us send trained and skilled social workers to provide desperately needed services to communities throughout Central Texas.”

The school’s master of science in social work program is ranked seventh in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

The need for social workers who speak Spanish is acute. More than 31 percent of Travis County residents speak a language other than English in the home, and an increasing number of clients request Spanish-speaking social workers each year in Central Texas social service agencies.

Since 2008, the School of Social Work has offered fellowships to bilingual students through funding from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. As part of its grant, the Hogg Foundation challenged the school to find a sustainable way to continue the fellowships beyond 2012.

The GRACE program addresses the gap between the supply and demand for qualified master’s-level social workers in the field of gerontology. According to the National Center for Gerontological Social Work Education, the number of people in the United States age 65 and older will double to more than 70 million by 2030. With an increasing elderly and nearly elderly population comes greater complexity in their needs for services.

The program, previously funded by the Hartford Foundation and the Mitte Foundation, is a collaboration between the School of Social Work and agencies that serve older adults to offer students the opportunity to learn social work practices with older adults.

For more information about giving to the UT School of Social Work contact Laura Turner Wells, Director of Development & Constituent Relations, 512-232-8376,  lwells@austin.utexas.edu.

For more information about the Social Work Master’s Program and these fellowship opportunities contact Ramon Gomez, MSSW, Director of Student and Community Affairs, toll-free 877-875-7352; 512-471-9819, ramon-gomez@austin.utexas.edu.

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