The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health will invest $1.5 million to fund their bilingual scholarship program for three more years, said Octavio Martinez Jr., executive director of the foundation.
This is the third year the foundation gave full tuition scholarships to social work graduate students who speak English and Spanish.
Twelve universities in Texas, including UT, are accredited by the national Council on Social Work Education, and participate in the scholarship program.
“The state of Texas has a great deal of shortages in social workers, in psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and licensed physiologists and it becomes even more acute when you want to find a workforce in those respective fields who have multilingual skills,” Martinez said.
The scholarship requires that after graduation, recipients must agree to provide mental health services in Texas for the period equal to the period of their scholarship.
The foundation decided this year to expand the program to be multilingual and include languages other than English or Spanish. The University of Houston submitted a proposal to accept applicants who spoke Vietnamese or Mandarin which are prevalent in Houston.
The universities will implement the program either next spring or next fall.
The funds for the next three years will pay for each student tuition, stipends for student travel for annual meetings, professional development, including assigned professional mentors, and funding for the continuation scholarships.
Program officer Rick Ybarra said the foundation is investing in sustainability to see the program continue after the additional three years is up.
“One of the things that we would like to see at the end of this project is for the scholarship to continue in some shape or form at each of the universities,” Ybarra said. “We want to work with [the universities] to identify new funding sources, how they can create partnerships to support some type of scholarship.”
Social work graduate student Elizabeth Harvey received the scholarship in the summer for two years of graduate study. If it were not for the scholarship, she would not have been a full time student, she said.
“When we graduate with less debt, it gives us greater freedom in what kind of job we would want,” Harvey said. “I’ll be able to get a job that is maybe less high paying and be able to serve traditionally underserved populations because I have more flexibility.”