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Helping Social Workers Focused on an Aging Population

Atlantic Philanthropies grant allows SSW institute to continue training


Photo courtesy of the Institute for Geriatric Social Work

Boston University’s Institute for Geriatric Social Work (IGSW) has received a five-year, $3.1 million extension grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies (AP) to continue its efforts to prepare the social services workforce for an aging society, announces 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,” says Brown. “The preparation of social-service professionals for an aging population reflects the University’s long-standing tradition of practical engagement with the world and the graduate school’s leadership in its field.”

The AP award is designed to help the IGSW become sustainable by generating earned income through online educational programs that train the social services workforce. Since it was established with initial funding from AP in 2002, the IGSW has provided post-professional training in aging-related topics and in improving the practices of social workers caring for older Americans and their families.

Bureau of the Census population projections released in 1996 predict that 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 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,” says Gail Steketee, SSW dean. “The breadth of the IGSW trainings will really enhance practitioners’ ability to work with elderly clients and their families.”

“IGSW has made major contributions through educational innovation, research on training effectiveness, and workforce redesign,” says Laura Robbins, AP program executive, “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 committed to making 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 Vietnam.

Over the past five years, IGSW has trained more than 47,000 practitioners in 50 states and 24 countries, as well as pioneered regional and statewide workforce development projects.

“The workforce of the future will increasingly require access to skill-based educational programs in the workplace,” says Scott Miyake Geron, an SSW associate professor and IGSW director. “Much of what we have learned over the past six years has broad application to address a 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.”

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