2017 recipients of St. David's Foundation grants
2017 recipients of St. David’s Foundation grants

The St. David’s Foundation is providing $206,000 to continue and expand the UT Austin’s School of Social Work’s GRACE program (Gerontology Resources and the Aging Community in Education). This program targets master’s level students who wish to increase their skills in geriatric social work.

Thanks to the St. David’s Foundation’s generous award, the GRACE program is able to provide fellowships to students, support a group of students and a field instructor to attend the annual conference of the American Society on Aging, and keep alumni connected through the GRACE Graduates Network.

“As the aging population in Central Texas grows dramatically, St. David’s Foundation is committed to building a vibrant workforce to address this need. The GRACE program at UT Austin’s School of Social Work plays a critical role in this goal by training master’s level social work students to work with older adults,” said Andrew Levack, senior program officer for St. David’s Foundation. “This year we have increased our investment so that the GRACE program can expand to provide twenty-four fellowships for students.”

Students in the program are required to participate in GRACE gerontology educational events throughout the academic year and engage in fieldwork at agencies that provide services to older adults.

“The St. David’s Foundation has consistently supported our efforts at increasing students’ interest and commitment in geriatric social work while also contributing to decreasing their student loan burden,” said Sarah Swords, clinical professor and GRACE program coordinator. “I am grateful to the foundation for their vision and generosity, and for helping the GRACE Program make a positive impact in the lives and careers of social work students for years to come.”

The UT Austin School of Social Work started the GRACE program in 2009. The program has grown in size and reach from six master’s students in 2009 to a total of twenty-seven for the academic year 2016-2017. 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.