The St. David’s Foundation is providing $120,000 to continue and expand the School of Social Work’s GRACE program, which awards fellowships to master’s level students who wish to increase their skills in geriatric social work. GRACE program students are required to participate in gerontology educational events throughout the year, and to do their fieldwork at agencies that provide services to older adults. (read more here). This year’s expansion of the program will allow a select group of GRACE program students to attend the 2015 Aging in America Conference, the annual meeting of the American Society on Aging.

utssw-grace“I feel very grateful to the St. David’s Foundation for their continued generous support,” said GRACE program coordinator Sarah Swords. “These funds provide much-needed financial support to our master’s students, helping to defray the cost of graduate school and contributing to their interest and commitment in social work practice in the field of aging.”

Swords added that by attending the Aging in America Conference, students will learn about the field of aging from a national perspective, hearing from experts and learning about innovations in practice.  “This is a very exciting time for the GRACE Program, thanks to the St. David’s Foundation!” she said.

The funds for the GRACE program are part of a total of $3.4 million in grants that the St. David’s Foundation is giving to several Austin-area organizations that assist seniors with healthcare related needs.

“The Austin area has the third fastest growing population of older adults in the country, ranging from a 22% increase in Travis County to 40% more in Hays County since 2010,” said in a press release Michael Wilson, program officer for Healthy Aging at St. David’s Foundation. “Organizations who serve the needs of older adults are seeing increased demand for services, meaning waiting lists and long delays due to this tremendous growth.”