The St. David’s Foundation has awarded a grant of $206,000 for 2018 to continue and expand the Steve Hicks School of Social Work’s GRACE program, which targets master’s level students who wish to increase their skills in geriatric social work. The funds will provide fellowships to 24 students, fund a trip to the annual meeting of the American Society on Aging, and support outreach and professional development to GRACE graduates.

Ellen Line with a client at her internship with Jewish Family Services. Photo by Martin do Nascimento.
GRACE student with a client at her internship. Photo by Martin do Nascimento.

This award is one among St. David’s Foundation grants totaling over $14.6 million with the goal of making Central Texas the healthiest community in the world.

“Young or old, city dweller or rural resident, many of our friends and neighbors are in need of important services to maintain a healthy life,” said Earl Maxwell, CEO of St. David’s Foundation, in a press release. “We’re delighted to support so many effective local organizations who are helping to keep our neighbors and families healthy and active.”

The Steve Hicks School of Social Work started the GRACE program in 2009 to prepare social workers to serve the needs of the growing aging population in Central Texas. Students in the GRACE program are required to engage in fieldwork at agencies that provide services to older adults and participate in  gerontology educational events throughout the academic year.

“The strategic vision of the St. David’s Foundation aligns perfectly with the GRACE Program’s goal of increasing the number of social workers with specialized training in geriatric care. I feel grateful for our strong partnership with the foundation and am excited to see the innovations and contributions that our students and graduates will make in our community,” said Sarah Swords, coordinator of the program.

The GRACE program has grown in size and reach from six master’s students in 2009 to a total of 24 for the academic year 2017-2018. An average of four new GRACE placement options for students have been added every year. Agencies in the community earn designation as GRACE placements if they serve primarily clients over the age of 60 and have a programmatic focus on issues such as aging, physical healthcare and end of life.