GRACE Program

Gerontology Resources and the Aging Community in Education:

The GRACE program is a field-based learning program designed to increase social work students’ knowledge of and experience with older adults.  The GRACE program is coordinated by clinical associate professor Sarah Swords, and is implemented by a group of Field Instructors dedicated to increasing the number of social workers working with the older adults.  Field Instructors are employed at various community agencies in the Austin area that provide services to older adults and collaborate closely with the School of Social Work to create field internships for students. The students’ field experience is complemented by GRACE program educational enrichment events, which are held six times each academic year. These events provide specialized knowledge in areas important to social work practice in gerontology.

GRACE scholars are students who have demonstrated an interest and/or commitment to working with older adults. Scholars must complete at least one internship at a GRACE placement and attend at least five scheduled GRACE educational events during the course of their graduate studies. The St. David’s Foundation supports GRACE scholarships, which are awarded through a competitive process to some first field and final field students who are placed at GRACE agencies and fulfill additional educational criteria.


Sarah Swords, LCSW

Sarah Swords, LCSW is a Clinical Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Masters Programs at the University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work.  She joined the faculty in 2010 and taught social work practice and field courses through summer 2017. In her new leadership role, she holds responsibility for admissions, recruitment, curriculum, reaccreditation, and student advising and progress in the MSSW and dual degree programs. She coordinates the GRACE (Gerontology Resources and the Aging Community in Education) Program, a collaborative field education program which addresses the workforce shortage in geriatric healthcare by increasing the number of professional social workers in practice with older adults and their families. Prof. Swords is a licensed clinical social worker and board approved supervisor, who presents at local, regional and national conferences on topics related to social work practice, field education, and gerontology. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, and the American Society on Aging. She stays involved in the community through her service on the board of Austin Child Guidance Center and through Impact Austin, a local women’s philanthropy group.