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Lee Foundation invests $300,000 in scholarship support to bolster local mental health workforce
The Patrick P. Lee Foundation is partnering with Canisius College and Daemen University to address the local mental health workforce shortage by providing scholarships to students pursuing graduate level degrees in clinical mental health counseling and social work.
A press release noted, “The Lee Foundation selected these institutions because of their proven track record of producing well-trained professionals who staff the mental health departments of hospitals, human service agencies and medical clinics in Western New York.
“Due to a growing national deficit of mental health practitioners, over 6 million New Yorkers live in a mental health professional shortage area as designated by the Health Resources and Service Agency (HRSA). Social workers and counselors, which constitute a significant segment of the mental health workforce, face challenges related to the cost of their master’s level education and their projected salaries in the sector. Nationally, the average graduate student loan debt accrued by these professionals is over $49,000. In May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual salary for social workers was $50,390. This imbalance is a contributing factor to high turnover in the field and limits interest in mental health-related professions altogether.”
To address the financial barriers of students pursuing a master’s degree in mental health, the Lee Foundation is providing $300,000 in scholarships to students in Canisius College’s clinical mental health counseling program and Daemen University’s Master of Social Work program. The foundation’s funding will provide students up to $20,000 of support to offset their educational expenses and limit their loan debt burden. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must demonstrate a commitment to working in Western New York after graduation.
“Together, Canisius and Daemen train over 150 students in counseling and social work, making them ideal partners for our scholarship programs,” said Jane Mogavero, executive director of the Lee Foundation. “The scholarships provide much-needed financial relief to students pursuing mental health degrees. And, since these students are committed to remaining in Western New York after graduation, we are ensuring our local community agencies have well-trained, dedicated staff.”
Daemen University President Gary A. Olson said, "Our country is facing a serious mental health crisis, and Daemen takes great pride in being at the forefront of helping address this concern with our Masters of Social Work program. The support from the Lee Foundation will provide opportunities for many more deserving students to complete their degree and make an impact in the WNY community."
Canisius College President Steve K. Stoute said, “We are extremely grateful to the Patrick P. Lee Foundation for its important investment in the development and training of our local mental health professionals. These scholarships will provide support for students in our clinical mental health counseling program who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others.”
Since 2016, the foundation has awarded $2.1 million in mental health scholarships to students studying psychiatry, psychology, psychiatric-mental health nursing, social work and counseling. For more information about the Lee Foundations scholarships and other mental health grants, visit www.lee.foundation.