The St. David’s Foundation is providing $175,000 to continue and expand the School of Social Work’s GRACE program (Gerontology Resources and the Aging Community in Education). This program provides 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 engage in fieldwork at agencies that provide services to older adults.

utssw-grace“St. David’s Foundation is proud to support the GRACE fellowship program for many reasons,” said Andrew Levack, program officer for the Healthy Futures area at the St. David’s Foundation. “As the aging population of Central Texas grows at record levels, there is an increasing demand for social workers to provide high-quality services to older adults and their families. The GRACE program provides specialty training of the highest caliber to address that need, while also reducing the loan burden of students as they begin successful careers in gerontology.”

“I am grateful for the foundation’s vision and generosity, in funding our program again and in increasing the amount of each student’s fellowship,” said Sarah Swords, the GRACE program coordinator. “These dollars help students fund their education, decreasing their loan burdens and thus their worries about their future as social work professionals.”

This year’s award includes an extra $50,000 to increase fellowship awards to students. The award will also fund a group of students, a field instructor, and the program’s coordinator to attend Aging in America 2016, the annual meeting of the American Society on Aging (read about GRACE students who went to last year’s Aging in America conference).

“The students who attended the 2015 Aging in America conference all said that the experience exceeded their expectations,” Swords said. “They learned about new areas for future practice, met leaders in the field, and began to see new ways in which they will make a difference as social workers in the lives of older adults and their families. I am thrilled to share this experience this year with a field instructor as well. Our field instructors truly make a difference in the lives of our students and I’m grateful to the St. David’s Foundation for funding this professional development opportunity for one of them.”