In a new kind of partnership uniting higher education, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy, the Hutto-Patterson Charitable Foundation has established an endowment to fund the creation of a field placement at the USC School of Social Work with United Friends of the Children (UFC), an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of foster youth.
With a gift of $625,000 to be provided over five years, the foundation is making it possible for the School of Social Work to offer Master of Social Work students the opportunity to receive hands-on training at an established social service agency that serves foster youth, an extremely vulnerable population that often goes underserved.
“Foster youth lack opportunities and are frequently overlooked,” said Catherine Hutto Gordon, MSW ’97, member of the School of Social Work Board of Councilors and president of the Hutto-Patterson Charitable Foundation. “They haven’t had much nurturing. United Friends of the Children is a place for them to accept nurturing and learn how to nurture other people.”
The Los Angeles-based nonprofit UFC is dedicated to bettering the lives of foster children and supporting former foster youth in their journey to becoming successful, independent adults. Polly Williams, UFC president and CEO, said the organization is excited to partner with the School of Social Work and Hutto-Patterson Charitable Foundation to further this goal, especially as this is the organization’s first field placement with a USC student.
“United Friends of the Children is committed to helping improve the lives of Los Angeles’ foster youth by empowering and supporting the participants in our housing and education programs to find jobs, rent their own apartments, attend and graduate from college, and develop lasting and meaningful relationships with others,” Williams said.
“Having an MSW student intern will help United Friends of the Children in its mission to expand opportunities for L.A. foster youth, and that student will learn about the inner workings of the organization, from program development to grant writing and evaluation.”
For donors who want to make the most of their gifts, funding field placements is a win-win for all involved.
“This was such a wonderful opportunity to link up the institutions,” Gordon said. “This situation seems to benefit the most people – the clients at United Friends of the Children, and the students at USC.”
The foundation’s gift will provide a generous stipend of $15,000 to a second-year MSW student interested in pursuing a career dedicated to helping former foster youth transition out of the system and into independent adulthood. Financial support will also be given to UFC to assist in the delivery of the hands-on training.
Gordon said that she was particularly interested in funding the establishment of this field placement partly due to having worked with foster children. As a child and family social worker at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Gordon performed psychological assessments for foster care agencies to help children maintain their placements.
“United Friends of the Children is doing such great work getting kids ready for college,” she said. “If I were still an MSW student, I would have loved to have had a field placement there.”
Marilyn Flynn, dean of the School of Social Work, emphasized the benefit of having a field placement at a dynamic organization such as UFC.
“At an agency where so many facets of a person’s life are addressed, our students will have the opportunity to learn how to best guide people who have had little adult guidance in their lives,” Flynn said. “This endowment from the Hutto-Patterson Charitable Foundation will ensure that this kind of hands-on training – both for our students and for the foster youth United Friends of the Children serves – will be available for years to come.”
The Hutto-Patterson Charitable Foundation previously endowed the Catherine Hutto Gordon and Eileen Clare Hutto Scholarship for Military Social Work at the School of Social Work for students pursuing careers to help families cope with the stresses of military life. Eileen Hutto serves as vice president of the Hutto-Patterson Charitable Foundation and is also a member of the school’s Board of Councilors.