Given its vital mission to “support organizations that offer solutions to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare for residents of Montgomery County,” it’s easy to see why the nonprofit Healthcare Initiative Foundation has built a longstanding partnership with the Universities at Shady Grove, providing scholarships for students who will ultimately fill so many of the critical healthcare jobs within the county.

Since 2016, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation has been providing scholarships to students at USG who are majoring in a number of healthcare fields. Students in various programs have benefited from the scholarship support, including many who have majored in Social Work through UMBC’s baccalaureate program on the USG campus.

Recently, in an effort to ensure that more, well-prepared, licensed social workers will be available to serve the community’s growing needs for such professionals, HIF worked with USG and two of its university partners – UMBC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) – to expand the scholarship opportunities. Through this additional support from HIF, students who complete the bachelor’s degree from UMBC are able to secure a scholarship for their pursuit of a Master’s of Social Work degree, through the UMB program at USG.

There is a great need for social workers and licensed practitioners that have graduate degrees in Montgomery County, according to Dr. Joan Pittman, Director of UMB’s Master’s of Social Work program at USG. She notes that it’s advantageous to have a graduate degree in this field, but that some students may stop short of going on to earn the higher degree, due to cost or their need to work full-time before returning for their master’s. 

Amy Caballero is one of the HIF scholarship recipients who is benefiting from the initiative. She earned her bachelor’s in social work from UMBC at USG and wanted to continue on with her academic journey. Her goal is to become a licensed social worker in Montgomery County and provide services to youth. She is currently working on her master's degree at UMB, on the USG campus, and spends her time away from school doing her field placement in the Wellness Center at Seneca Valley High School. 

Caballero notes: “Being an HIF Scholar provided me the opportunities to be able to pay for grad school and make this possible.” She adds that without the scholarship, “I wouldn't have been able to complete my MSW within two years.”