UAlbany School of Social Welfare Receives $100K Grant from The New York Community Trust for Work on Homelessness

The NYCT grant will support UAlbany's efforts to launch a National Homelessness Social Work Initiative to make homelessness a national priority among Schools of social work.

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 13, 2015) -- The University at Albany School of Social Welfare (SSW) has received a $100,000 grant from The New York Community Trust to support the School's National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services. The grant will fund the Center's efforts to launch a National Homelessness Social Work Initiative to bring together social work programs from across the nation to make homelessness a professional priority and foster stronger relationships between schools of social work and agencies helping the homeless.

"The Trust's investment will help our National Center to advance the U.S. Housing and Urban Development goal of eliminating homelessness within the decade," says Katharine Briar-Lawson, dean of the UAlbany's School of Social Welfare.

Homelessness has been acknowledged as a national disgrace. Economic difficulties, often exacerbated by trauma related to health, mental health and substance abuse issues make preventing the problem more complex. To address that, the SSW initiative, in concert with the Council on Social Work Education will:

  • improve how social work students are trained to address homelessness and help people avoid it;
  • develop student internships and leadership paths;
  • partner with other social work schools in New York and nationally to influence change in curricula that will advance this training;
  • strengthen partnerships between schools of social work and homeless service agencies;
  • share the Restorative Integral Support (RIS) model, a whole person approach that integrates micro/macro interventions and allows for flexible collaboration between homeless service leaders, policymakers, and those who need the support.

"Thanks to the generosity of the New York Community Trust, our National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services will build capacity for a multi-year movement to prioritize preparation of homeless services leaders," said Heather Larkin, co-director of the Center and SSW associate professor. "This will position social workers as leaders in developing programs to assist people experiencing and at risk for homelessness."

UAlbany Associate Professor of Social Work Heather Larkin
UAlbany Associate Professor of Social Work Heather Larkin

The Trust is one of the oldest community foundations in the country. Since its beginning in 1924, the Trust has been steadfast in its direct support for human needs. The Children, Youth and Families initiative, one of four core NYCT program areas, has consistently supported innovative ideas that promote the independence and reintegration into society of homeless families and adults.

"Finding solutions to homelessness is in everyone’s best interest," said Patricia Jenny, vice president for grants at The Trust. "This program is crucial for helping increase students’ skills in service delivery, advocacy and leadership in this field."

Launched in 2013, the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services helps to strengthen programs that transform the lives of all homeless children and adults. The Center's emphasis is on developing leadership within and across agencies serving those experiencing homelessness, providing guidance on innovative funding opportunities -- especially those made possible by Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act -- and supporting the use of evidence-based and emerging practices.

The Center is devoted to improving services and support for homeless individuals throughout the United States, while advancing prevention and intervention services.

Made possible in part through a $50,000 anonymous gift to the School of Social Welfare, the Center grew out of an existing partnership between the School and the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) of California. Co-directed by Public Service Professor and co-Principal Investigator John Records, the executive director of COTS, the Center is a consortium of institutions including Hunter College, Indiana University, Catholic University, California State Universities at Long Beach and Sacramento and the University of Houston.

Founded in 1965, UAlbany’s School of Social Welfare is consistently ranked among the top schools of social work. With a strong emphasis on community engagement -- local, national, and international – it has a history of developing systems, enhancing community capacities, and pioneering best practices. SSW receives more than $9 million a year in grants to fund special projects with national impact. Within recent years, it has received $22.5 million for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute as well as $3 million annually for the Center for Excellence in Aging and Community Wellness and the Center for Human Services Research.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.