Loyola University Chicago

University Newsroom

Press Release - June 30, 2021

Media Contact
Anna Shymanski Zach
Communication Specialist
Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work Awarded $2 Million Grant from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for Behavioral Health Training

The Center for Field Innovation, Research, Strategy, and Training (C-FIRST) will use this four-year grant to enhance training for behavioral health professionals working with underserved communities

CHICAGO – June 30, 2021 – Loyola University Chicago today announced that the Center for Field Innovation, Research, Strategy, and Training (C-FIRST) within the School of Social Work (SSW) was awarded a $2 million four-year grant by the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated, economically, or medically vulnerable. The grant, part of HRSA’s Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) initiative, enables C-FIRST faculty to enhance training opportunities for students preparing to become behavioral health professionals focused on the screening, assessment, and treatment of individuals at risk of behavioral health issues in marginalized and medically underserved communities.

The grant will help C-FIRST create a cutting-edge curriculum for second-year and advanced-standing graduate social work students by establishing relationships with community-based partners to increase access to quality behavioral health services in high need areas of Cook County. Through collaborative training opportunities with the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, social work students will learn to utilize team-based care models in integrated, interdisciplinary behavioral and primary care settings.

C-FIRST engages community-based interventions and practice-based research that supports the sustainable implementation of innovative interventions to meet the unique challenges faced by organizations, clinicians, and students across Chicago and suburban communities. In 2019, HRSA awarded C-FIRST a $1.5 million grant to help fund the Opioid Workforce Expansion Training Program (OWETP) at Loyola, which aims to enhance prevention, education, treatment, and recovery of adolescents and transitional-age youth at high risk for substance use and opioid use disorders by creating a pipeline to employment through community-based training.

“We are grateful to HRSA for their continuing recognition of C-FIRST’s mission to meet social challenges by sustainable implementation of practice-based research, strategy, and training,” said Dr. John Orwat, co-director of C-FIRST. “The BHWEP funding will provide our students with more opportunities to work with individuals from many different backgrounds while at the same time increasing access to behavioral health services in high-demand areas.”

BHWET at Loyola is intended to help to recruit a workforce that reflects a diverse, inclusive profile of students interested in serving medically underserved areas for behavioral health. At Loyola, the grant will help increase accessibility to the program by providing a $10,000 stipend to about one fourth of graduate social work students in the school, which covers about one third of tuition costs.

“Loyola strives to provide our students with access to dynamic, multicultural experiential-learning, and research opportunities, and C-FIRST continues to offer innovative inter-professional training programs that equip students with the tools and skills to make real differences in their communities,” said Goutham Menon, PhD, Dean of SSW. 

For more information about C-FIRST, including student opportunities and events, please visit our website at LUC.edu/cfirst. SSW students should check their emails and the C-FIRST website for updates regarding the application for BHWET at Loyola.

About Loyola University Chicago
Founded in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is one of the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic universities, with more than 16,600 students. Nearly 11,500 undergraduates call Loyola home. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy, as well as course locations in Saigon-Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Vernon Hills, Illinois (Cuneo Mansion and Gardens); and a Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, Illinois. The University features 14 schools, colleges, and institutes, including Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School, Institute of Environmental Sustainability, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, Quinlan School of Business, School of Communication, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, School of Education, School of Law, School of Social Work, and Stritch School of Medicine. Ranked a top national university by U.S. News & World Report, Loyola is also among a select group of universities recognized for community service and engagement by prestigious national organizations like the Carnegie Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service. To learn more about Loyola, visit LUC.edu, “like” us at Facebook.com/LoyolaChicago, or follow us on Twitter via @LoyolaChicago.