Foundation Donates $100,000 to Create Internships

Social Work receives donation to support student internships

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2020 Valerie Hill


A Plano foundation has donated $100,000 to the UTA School of Social Work so that its undergraduate and graduate students may offer crisis services tostudents who are affected by COVID-19.


The donation from the Kalman and Ida Wolens Foundation of Plano allows the School to create more than 200 internship positions for Social Work students to offer intervention and support services across the UTA campus. The students began offering the services in June and will continue doing so into the fall, said Dawnetta Smith, assistant dean of Field Education in the School of Social Work.


“We’re so grateful to the Wolen’s Foundation for this amazing gift,” Social Work Dean Scott Ryan said. “This allows our students – in a pandemic – to continue their educational studies and field experiences.”


Joe Milkes, chief executive officer at the Wolens Foundation, said the organization’s donation was aimed partially at helping students, many of whom saw their in-person internships canceled due to social service agency shutdowns amid rising coronavirus infection rates, to complete their internships and academically required field work.


“Dean Ryan...has indicated that there is an immediate need to sustain the students (working) in various agencies this summer,” Milkes wrote in a May 22 letter announcing the Foundation’s gift to the university.


With the Foundation’s gift, the School of Social Work will support more than 200 students with internships on campus where Social Work students will provide peer support to UTA students by referring students in need to supporting offices on campus or connecting students to varied resources off campus.


This summer, Social Work students earned $440 as part of their internship and to help get the program started.


Under the plan, students  will offer Social Work-related services such case management, community referrals, crisis coping skills and stress management skills to students who are  experiencing COVID-19, in some way, such as they are COVID-19 positive or care for a COVID-19 positive friends or relatives, Dr. Smith said in an email to administrators regarding the program.


UTA graduate and undergraduate Social Work students must complete hundreds of hours of a supervised internship in which they interact directly with clients offering social services in order to earn their degrees.


The School is affiliated with more than 800 agencies for students to complete the required internship.


However, earlier this spring and into the summer, as the coronavirus pandemic widened in Texas, many social service agencies shut their doors to in-person client visits in favor of tele-visits or Web conference-styled visits.


The agencies decisions meant that they no longer needed Social Work students to assist them with carrying out in-person services to clients since no clients were visiting their agencies. As a result, the school had some difficulties in placing some students. The Wolen’s Foundation gift has helped resolve this issue with Social Work internships.