USD Counseling Program Awarded $3.2 Million Grant to Promote Diversity Through Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

The Department of Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy (CMFT), within the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) at the University of San Diego (USD) was awarded a $3.2 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Grant for Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS)*. 

The grant will be used to increase diversity amongst future master-level trainees in the University of San Diego’s nationally-accredited Counseling program in hopes that future graduates can help underserved clients in Southern California. According to HRSA, the SDS Program is geared toward students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including students from ethnic minority groups. 

“This HRSA grant exemplifies the mission of SOLES, by providing support in the form of scholarship monies to disadvantaged students who wish to enter the field of Counseling. Increasing the diversity of counselors subsequently increases the diversity of clients that counselors are able to serve. As such, this grant will help the field to have a broader impact throughout our community. This is indeed a win-win, first for those deserving students seeking to become masters-level trainees in mental health, and secondly for the individuals and communities that they will serve,” said Dr. Joi Spencer, Associate Dean and Professor in SOLES at the University of San Diego. 

The Department of Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy has three goals and objectives with this newly received award: 

  • Recruit and attract underrepresented minority students to the counseling program 
  • Support the academic success, career readiness and personal wellness of underrepresented minority students in counseling 
  • Increase the number of underrepresented minority students completing a Practicum or Fieldwork in Medically Underserved Communities (MUC) and Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) 

“This grant addresses a current and historic need for us as a training institution to recruit and retain candidates from underserved communities for professional study in counseling so that they may in turn work as mental health providers in underserved communities. This funding allows us to deepen our existing partnerships with community-based mental health clinics to provide practical training for the next generation of racially and ethnically diverse mental health professionals,” said Wendell Callahan, Professor of Practice and Counseling Program Director for the Department of Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy at the University of San Diego. 

“As faculty members of color, it has been our (Wendell and I’s) mission to ensure that all counselors possess the knowledge, attitude and skills to ensure that the mental health needs of underserved and disadvantaged communities were competently attended to and addressed for the individual and the collective. In the mental health profession, it’s difficult to find counselors of color. We’re trying to specifically increase the number of ethnically and racially diverse professionals that come into the field through this grant and decrease the financial burden of graduate school, so that students can concentrate on their studies and training,” said Erika Cameron, Associate Professor & Department Chair for the Department of Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy at the University of San Diego. 

The HRSA grant will help the University of San Diego build upon already established partnerships with Medically Underserved Communities and Medically Underserved Areas along with community-based mental health providers in San Diego County. 

*The SDS grant is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $3.2 Million with 0 percent of the award financed with non-governmental sources. The content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov. 

— Elena Gomez

Contact:

Elena Gomez
elenagomez@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-2739

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