Federal $2.74 Million Grant to Drive Social Work Diversity at U of A

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A five-year, $2.74 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services will help diversify the social work workforce in the state and beyond through scholarships to underserved students enrolling in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Arkansas.

The DHHS Fellowship Program will provide financial assistance and additional learning opportunities to approximately 35 graduate social work students each year who meet eligibility guidelines relating to household income, race, ethnicity, geography or first-generation student status, among others. 

“Our goal in the social work program is to educate leader practitioners who are prepared to serve our clients in state, nationally, and internationally,” said Sara Collie, M.S.W. program director and co-investigator on the grant. “To truly do that, it’s imperative we have a student body that reflects the diversity of our world. This grant will help us recruit, retain and graduate underrepresented students who may have difficulties paying for graduate school otherwise. And it’s a game changer for students who are experiencing unexpected financial hardship due to the pandemic.”

Students in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences-based program will receive up to $15,000 in scholarships and participate in labs to build knowledge, skills and experience relating to mental health and primary care services. Students will also be exposed to medically underserved communities and receive hands-on learning opportunities to be equipped with the primary care clinical skills, education and experiences necessary to work with traditionally underserved, high-need populations throughout Arkansas. Professor Ananda Rosa, co-investigator and director of field, arranges field placements and supervision for each student in the M.S.W. program.

“This grant helps the U of A address the need for an expert social work workforce throughout Arkansas,” said Marcia Shobe, director of research for the IDEALS Institute and professor of social work who was the principal investigator on the grant. “We’re a perfect fit for a grant like this to help build important skill sets to serve our state, including rural and medically underserved communities.”

“The University of Arkansas is committed to further diversifying our student body, which leads to a more diverse workforce and state,” said Yvette Murphy-Erby, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and professor of social work. “This is such an exciting opportunity for our campus and yet another action we’re taking to ensure we have a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus for all.”

For more information on the scholarship program and how to apply for it, contact Collie at sjcollie@uark.edu or 479-575-4510.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3% of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Andra Liwag, director of communications
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-4393, liwag@uark.edu

John Post, director of academic communications
University Relations
479-575-5555, johnpost@uark.edu


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