$1.2 million grant will prepare Marymount Counseling students to serve vulnerable populations

A view of Marymount University's campus


Marymount University has established a new fellowship program to prepare Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduates to serve high-needs populations and meet the demands of a growing profession. 

A $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will fund 84 fellowships for students within the University’s School of Counseling

“This grant provides an impressive opportunity to support our Counseling students and expand the availability of culturally sensitive Clinical Mental Health counselors,” said Dr. Rita Wong, Associate Vice President for Research at Marymount University. “We look forward to seeing the important work of this proposal unfold over the next four years.”

“HRSA sets high expectations for its grant selections, so we are excited to have our proposed training program chosen,” added Dr. Lisa Jackson-Cherry, Professor and Director of the School of Counseling. “We believe this will assist with increased partnerships in the community and increased visibility of the need for mental health services within medically underserved areas.”

The Counselors Serving High At-Risk Populations and Settings (C-SHARP) program aims to recruit and award fellowships to students pursuing a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, with an emphasis on Hispanic students, multilingual students and those from medically underserved communities. Students selected for a fellowship will be awarded a $10,000 stipend for their two-semester internship placement in a medically underserved area (MUA), a designation by HRSA for locations that have too few primary care providers or high poverty rates.

“Students will be exposed to various diverse and marginalized populations, and learn how community and multicultural aspects impact mental health integration to the communities and populations,” Dr. Jackson-Cherry explained. “Mental health is still often stigmatized among many marginalized groups, and we hope that exposure to counseling will open up additional support.”

The C-SHARP program will launch at a critical time, as the University has received an increase of requests from local agencies seeking to hire graduates to work with clients from diverse backgrounds. These include Spanish speakers, LGBTQIA+ clients and those from marginalized and rural communities. 

This demand has also been felt across the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in the counseling profession is expected to increase by 25 percent from 2019 to 2029.

The C-SHARP Fellowship will also provide students with additional clinical training in trauma-informed care, violence across the lifespan, additional ethical and legal issues and telehealth practices. Working in cross-professional settings and collaborative care, Marymount students will become fully equipped to serve the most vulnerable populations.