Boston University’s Institute for Geriatric Social Work Awarded $3.1-Million Grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies

in Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Social Work, Science & Technology
May 21st, 2009

Contact: Colin Riley, 617-353-2240 | criley@bu.edu

(Boston) – Boston University’s Institute for Geriatric Social Work (IGSW), a national leader in training social workers in competencies related to aging, has received a five-year, $3.1-million extension grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies (AP) to continue the institute’s trail-blazing efforts to prepare the social-services workforce for an aging society, announced BU President Robert A. Brown.

“The Atlantic Philanthropies’ generous grant comes at a critical time, allowing the School of Social Work to continue the development of the institute’s innovative training program,” said Brown. “The preparation of social-service professionals for an aging population reflects the university’s longstanding tradition of practical engagement with the world, and the graduate school’s leadership in its field.”

AP’s award is focused on capacity building so the IGSW can become sustainable by generating earned income through workforce training via online educational programs. Since it was established with initial funding from AP in 2002, the IGSW has become a pacesetter in the provision of post-professional training in aging-related topics, and improving the practice of social workers who care for the growing and changing population of older Americans and their families.

Based on Bureau of the Census population projections released in 1996, from 2010 to 2030, the U.S. geriatric population will rise from 39 million to 69 million, a 75-percent increase. From 2030 to 2050, the growth rate is projected to increase another 14 percent, bringing the total of older Americans to a staggering 79 million.

“This grant enables the BU School of Social Work to maintain leadership in training social workers and other human service professionals around the country to intervene in ways that have been demonstrated to benefit aging clients in a wide variety of settings,” said Gail Steketee, dean of BU’s School of Social Work. “The breadth of the IGSW trainings will really enhance practitioners’ ability to work with elderly clients and their families. This is social work education at its best: Training the workforce to provide critical services to clients in need.”

The Atlantic Philanthropies grant follows the March announcement of a $10.5-million donation to BU’s Medical School, the institution’s largest; a $1 million annual fund challenge pledge in April from BU Trustee Sidney J. Feltenstein and his wife, Lisa; and in May, a $1.5-million gift from an alum to the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College (SAR), the largest individual pledge in the school’s history.

“IGSW has made major contributions through educational innovation, research on training effectiveness, and workforce redesign,” said Laura Robbins, program executive for The Atlantic Philanthropies, “but the need for social service professionals with adequate training in aging remains great. We are pleased to provide ongoing support to IGSW as it continues these important projects while moving to become self-sustaining.”

Bermuda-based AP is a limited-life foundation, committed to spending its entire multi-billion-dollar endowment by 2020 to make a significant, sustainable impact in four program areas – aging; disadvantaged children and youth; population health; and reconciliation and human rights – in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam.

Over the past five years, IGSW has trained more than 47,000 practitioners in all 50 states and in more than 24 countries, as well as pioneering regional and statewide workforce development projects. The final capacity-building grant from AP will strengthen IGSW’s leadership in developing the innovative online educational programs that are the cornerstone of its workforce projects

“The workforce of the future will increasingly require access to skill-based educational programs in the workplace,” said Scott Miyake Geron, IGSW director and associate professor at BU’s School of Social Work. “Much of what we have learned over the past six years has broad application to address the shortage of well-trained professionals that threatens to overwhelm the nation’s capacity to provide basic health and social services to people of all ages. We are grateful for this opportunity to continue and expand our work.”

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

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