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Simmons Family Foundation gift to help move community-academic program to Dallas County agencies

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

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Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

The Simmons Family Foundation has approved a grant of $1 million to a program that could apply academic research intervention ideas from UT Arlington School of Social Work to Dallas County community agencies.

The Innovative Community Academic Partnership, or iCAP, initiates, supports and funds research ideas among educators to help social service agencies develop better evidence-informed practices. The aim of iCAP is to leverage the evaluative skills of professors with the frontline knowledge of practitioners to identify gaps in social service delivery, then institute those new practices.

The funding will flow through the Simmons Family Foundation Advised Fund of The Dallas Foundation.

“The Foundation is proud to support this expansion of the UT Arlington School of Social Work program into the Dallas County community,” said Serena Connelly, foundation vice president. “The iCAP program is an appealing investment because it benefits all stakeholders: providers, clients, funders, faculty and students.”

President James D. Spaniolo said the gift is a strong endorsement of the UT Arlington School of Social Work, whose enrollment has increased 63 percent during the past five years to 1,500 students this fall.

“We are humbled to receive a gift from such an influential organization,” Spaniolo said. “The Foundation has had a significant impact in our world. We’re pleased that they have the confidence in our School of Social Work to invest at this level.”

The iCAP program was founded in 2010 through an initial gift from the Amon G. Carter Foundation to support work with Tarrant County social agencies. Those initial funds helped refine initiatives of agencies such as Catholic Charities of Fort Worth and a Tarrant County juvenile court.

Through Common Threads, UT Arlington researchers validated the benefits of a program that teaches weaving skills to Bhutanese refugees served by Catholic Charities of Fort Worth. Through the Youth Offender Diversion Alternative study, UT Arlington students and faculty helped a juvenile court reduce repeat offenders through alternative methods of dealing with misdemeanor family violence.

Connelly, a UT Arlington School of Social Work alumna and 17-year veteran in the field of social services, said iCAP already has increased effectiveness with its partner agencies.

“The iCAP shows the range of skills that social workers bring to the field of human services — we are not just counselors but also researchers and administrators who aim to ensure best practices,” Connelly said.

Proposals considered for iCAP support are reviewed by national peers so that the best ideas receive funding, said Scott Ryan, dean of the UT Arlington School of Social Work. This year, iCAP projects are focusing on the impact of housing for homeless children and their families and measuring the impact of integrated health care, among other topics.

“We are building synergy and momentum through the success we’ve experienced with iCAP to date,” Ryan said. “Support from the Simmons Family Foundation will enable us to expand the reach of this research-based program throughout North Texas and beyond.”

Visit http://www.uta.edu/ssw/ for more information about the UT Arlington School of Social Work.

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 33,500 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more. 

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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