VCU's School of Social Work has more than a century of history in Richmond, and we are deeply embedded in supporting our community through research partnerships, service projects and student internship placements.
260,000+ hours of student time spent working at field placement sites with community partners *
500+ community groups partner with us
The school shares VCU’s commitment to community-engaged research, which entails a collaborative approach to building and disseminating knowledge in mutually beneficial partnerships with community stakeholders. Faculty in the school apply this approach in projects focused on preventing substance misuse, reducing food insecurity, fostering awareness about interpersonal violence and ameliorating homelessness, housing instability and eviction.
Many of these efforts are centered in our home community, the city of Richmond. Partnering with Richmond community advocates, for example, we've teamed up to create the Center for Youth Engaged Research to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness (C-PEYH).
C-PEYH will be a partnership between the School of Social Work and community advocates – the first of its kind at VCU or in Greater Richmond. Drawing on the lived experience and expertise of youth and young adults, C-PEYH will conduct research, provide community education and technical support, and offer services for youth experiencing homelessness. Recognizing that racial, gender and sexual minorities are among the most affected youth, C-PEYH will advance knowledge and practice with these populations and help translate the model for national and global impact.
Read a story about C-PEYH from VCU News.
VCU places premium value on experiential learning. In social work, our students work hands-on with our community partners through field education. Read about a few of our highlighted partners and how students apply their learning during their field experiences.
Robin’s Hope is a trauma recovery center for adults. Focusing on building resilience skills, Robin’s Hope offers a variety of groups to assist traumatized individuals on their healing journey, including art, book, self-care and yoga groups, in addition to a resilience-focused trauma support group. Group attendees may also participate in individual counseling.
Social work student interns assist the agency with group facilitation and individual and family counseling using trauma-based theory and interventions. Student interns also participate in fundraising, grant writing, program development and program evaluation.
Central Virginia Health Services
Central Virginia Health Services is a nonprofit community health center with Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) status. It has 16 clinics across central Virginia. Since 1970, it has been a community-based and patient-directed organization focused on providing care to people with limited access to the health services they need. Most locations offer comprehensive care, including medical, dental and behavioral health.
Social work student interns learn how to do behavioral health consultations within a medical setting for both adults and children. In addition, students will have a small caseload of more traditional psychotherapy patients. Students co-lead groups that could be psycho-educational in nature (e.g., parenting, managing stress, living with chronic conditions), and also therapeutic in nature (seeking safety).
VCU Health Injury and Violence Prevention Program-EMPOWER
EMPOWER is a multidisciplinary initiative dedicated to enhancing prevention and intervention services to individuals and their families who experience intimate partner violence or sexual violence. It provides direct services to patients and employees as well as training for health care providers.
Social work students serve as client advocates, providing crisis intervention, community-based referrals and resources, liaison to law enforcement, safety planning, court accompaniment, ongoing counseling and legal advocacy including protective order information.
One of the hardest parts of social work practice is being present with someone in deep, emotional pain. Because of our M.S.W. interns, Full Circle has been able to reach more families in the community. Full Circle provides learning opportunities for students to be prepared to skillfully support grieving members of our community, whether that is individually or in groups.”
Jillian Carpenter (she/her), assistant professor in teaching and field liaison; board member, Full Circle Grief Center