May 8, 2020

Students write grant for mental health crisis intervention training for Superior Police Officers

Project provides real-life experience for students while serving community needs.

UW-Superior students in Dr. Lynn Goerdt’s Social Work with Organizations and Communities course recently completed a grant application on behalf of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Douglas County to support crisis intervention training for Superior law enforcement officers. The project was designed to provide students with real-life grant writing experience, an important skill for those planning to work in the nonprofit and public sectors.

Since UW-Superior is still in a period of remote learning due to COVID-19, the students presented their completed grant proposal via Zoom to Officer Brad Jago of the Superior Police Department and Chrissy Barnard, a NAMI mental health peer support specialist in Superior. Jago and Barnard will now take the write-up and use it to apply for funding to provide the training for Superior police officers who have not yet had the opportunity to complete the crisis intervention training.

“The hard work these students put in by compiling the information and writing the grant on our behalf allows us to apply for the funds necessary to host the Crisis Intervention Team training, which will give us the ability to have dozens of officers attend the training at once rather than having to send four officers a year to another agency offering the training,” said Jago. “It will provide new tools and techniques for our officers to use, which means these students have made a real, long-lasting impact in our community by taking on this project.”

The project is an example of Academic Service-Learning, one of the distinctive aspects of a UWS education, in which students apply what they are learning in class in the community and gain real-life experience while serving.

If funded, the students’ work will help meet a critical need in the Superior community to improve interactions between law enforcement and people experiencing a mental health crisis. Jago shared that the Superior Police Department receives a mental health-related call every 4-5 hours, further evidence of the need for the training this grant would provide.

Each year, Goerdt’s students write a grant proposal for an organization in the Twin Ports. Recently, they wrote a proposal for the Duluth Public Schools that was funded, which resulted in a suicide-prevention program being implemented in the schools.

“I’m proud of the work our students have done to secure funding for critical community needs,” said Goerdt. “This type of hands-on assignment gives students invaluable experience that they can take to the workplace, while helping meet real needs in our communities.”

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Social Work is a growing field nationally and in our region. The UW-Superior social work major, which has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1978, fills a critical need in our region and beyond as we support and empower the growth of individuals, families, groups and communities. All of our faculty maintain social work licensure and continue in community practice as well as teaching.

Our alumni work in many areas including K-12 schools, hospitals, tribal and county social services, mental health agencies, chemical dependency and other addictions treatment centers, and non-profit organizations. They work with children, older adults, families, people with differing abilities, and many others in communities of all types and sizes.

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