Grant Aims to Elevate Latinx Behavioral Health Care in RI

Exterior of the School of Social Work Building
Rhode Island College Impact

A School of Social Work grant will fund essential clinical behavioral health services training to assist Hispanic communities statewide.

Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work has been awarded a four-year U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration grant bringing in $650,000 in the first year with a possibility of renewal for another three years, totaling $2.6 million. 

The Atrévete Hispanic Center for Excellence for Social Work Practice grant is designed to build a pipeline  of Latinx students from high schools and community colleges to the Accelerated B.S.W. to M.S.W. program (specializing in clinical social work), recruit and retain Latinx faculty, and build community partnerships to provide experiential learning for the clinical social work students.

RIC Interim Dean of Social Work Jayashree Nimmagadda says this is the first comprehensive grant the school has received that recognizes there is a high need for trained clinical social workers to provide mental and behavioral health services in Hispanic communities. 

“It’s about access for these communities to receive culturally and linguistically responsive services,” Nimmagadda says. “This grant will be impactful because it provides resources for mentorship and academic support for Latinx faculty; recruitment and retention of Hispanic high school students to earn a B.S.W. and M.S.W.; and community partnerships that strengthen the School of Social Work’s engagement or pipeline with the Latinx community in Rhode Island.”

Nimmagadda says it is unique for a school of social work to win this grant, which typically is awarded each year to more traditional health-related schools. 

The Atrévete grant will allow the School of Social Work to hire a minimum of six Latinx faculty over the next four years to teach the school’s Latinx student population, which is anticipated to comprise 25 percent of the school’s students. 

“Recruitment and retention of Latinx faculty is a challenge,” Nimmagadda says. “This grant will allow us to go out and recruit faculty who see themselves as part of our Center for Excellence.” The center would then produce research that yields evidence-based models of clinical and behavioral social work intervention.

The center would also conduct research that explores the cultural adaptation of evidence-based models of clinical assessments and interventions that are a better fit for the needs of the Hispanic community.

RIC Interim Vice President of External Relations and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Anna Cano-Morales says this project will serve the college’s growing diversity in a field that’s critically important for the state.

“The Atrévete Hispanic Center for Excellence illustrates how RIC is building capacity, is being intentional and is demonstrating what it truly means to be a Hispanic Serving Institution,” she says. “As a RIC School of Social Work alumna [Class of 1999], this endeavor makes me extremely proud.”