GRACE Program

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Gerontology Resources and the Aging Community in Education (GRACE) Program

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the GRACE Program?  The Gerontology Resources and the Aging Community in Education (GRACE)  is a field-based learning program designed to increase social work students’ knowledge of and experience with older adults.  The GRACE program is coordinated by clinical assistant professor Sarah Swords, and is implemented by a group of Field Instructors dedicated to increasing the number of social workers working with the older adults.  Field Instructors are employed at various community agencies in the Austin area that provide services to older adults and collaborate closely with the School of Social Work to create field internships for students. The students’ field experience is complemented by GRACE program educational enrichment events, which are held six times each academic year. These events provide specialized knowledge in areas relevant to social work practice in gerontology. Read about GRACE students’ experiences here.

What is a GRACE placement?  A field agency earns  designation as a GRACE placement if the agency serves primarily older adults and the field instructor serves on the GRACE Committee and/or supports the educational goals of the GRACE Program through working with School of Social Work students.

How do I become a GRACE candidate? GRACE candidates are graduate students who, through their actions in the School of Social Work, have expressed an interest and/or commitment to working with older adults.If you are currently in a GRACE placement, or have completed a GRACE placement, then you are considered a GRACE candidate.

How do I become a GRACE Scholar? In order to earn a GRACE Scholar designation, students must:

  • Successfully complete at least one internship at a GRACE placement and
  • Attend at least five scheduled GRACE educational events during the course of their graduate studies.

A GRACE Scholar designation identifies you to potential employers as a student who received additional training and preparation for working with older adults.

Are there scholarship opportunities? Fellowships will be awarded this academic year, through a generous grant from the St. David’s Foundation. St. David’s Foundation GRACE Fellowships will be awarded through a competitive process to some first field and final field students who are placed at GRACE placements and fulfill additional educational criteria.

Are there other benefits to being a GRACE candidate? Yes!  You will get to know other students and faculty, as well as social workers in the older adult practice community.You might also have the opportunity to attend a national conference on aging, depending on funding received; this exposure to national issues on aging can open up important opportunities for learning and networking for your future in the field.

For more information, contact Sarah Swords, LCSW, Clinical Assistant Professor and GRACE Program Coordinator: