Samuel Merritt University Receives $1.5M Grant for New Master of Social Work Program

Ashley Rappa

The Department of Health Care Access and Information Grants Fuel Both Access and Growth 

Samuel Merritt University has received a $1,487,750 grant from the California Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) to help fund the new Master of Social Work program. The award was given as a part of the Social Work Education Capacity Expansion grant program to support social work education in California. 

“This gift comes at a critical time, providing momentum to SMU’s newly launched three-year part-time Master of Social Work program. We recognize the real-world need to strengthen our state’s social work and behavioral health systems so children and adults can lead healthy lives,” said Dr. Evaon Wong-Kim, dean of SMU’s College of Health Sciences. 

The Master of Social Work program is a part of SMU’s College of Health Sciences, the mission of which is to improve access to healthcare for everyone by providing a rigorous education, hands-on learning experiences, and a values-based credo of care that prepares graduates to partner with underserved communities and address health ​​disparities. 

HCAI’s Social Work Education Capacity Expansion grant program helps further SMU’s goals and expand the workforce pipeline in California. The grant supports six other institutions in developing new social work programs, and helps an additional 16 institutions to expand existing programs. Overall, the money given—a total of $59.4 million—will add 860 social work student slots across California. 

This news adds to SMU’s recent and historic momentum. In 2021, SMU was named the best college in California for getting a job by career research website Zippia, and in November 2022 received a $10 million gift to fund podiatric medicine and nursing programs, the largest gift in the University’s 113-year history. 

SMU recently debuted a plan to double enrollment in the next 10 years and quadruple it by 2050, a vision supported by a new flagship campus in downtown Oakland, scheduled to open in January 2026. The cutting-edge urban hub will help shape the nurses of tomorrow, and by extension the local and national health landscape for years to come. 

“Thanks to the HCAI’s generosity, SMU can be an integral part of the statewide vision of reimagining behavioral health and emotional well-being for all children, adults, and families in California and beyond. Our graduates leave our campus ready to work in the real world and make a difference in the lives of patients and the health of our communities. We are deeply grateful to the HCAI for recognizing and supporting our vision,” said Dr. Wong-Kim.  

You May Also Like:

View all news