Social workers have a huge impact on peoples’ lives, and sometimes face difficult situations that can hurt their mental health or even physical safety. Sadly, they are not compensated enough for the lengths they go to to make the world a better place, being paid a paltry $43,500 per year, on average. One man decided to help out.
R. Steven “Steve” Hicks is a Texas businessman who made his fortune in telecommunications and radio. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, and now has come full circle as he sits on The University of Texas System Board of Regents after being appointed by then-Governor Rick Perry. Now, Hicks has given millions to the school that gave him his finance degree.
Hicks likes to give to those who help others, and he believes that, “helping others is the true essence of social work. When I decided that I wanted to make a lifetime gift, the School of Social Work was the perfect fit, where I thought I could make the most impact.” The student debt in the field of social work can be enormous compared to the salaries, even hitting numbers like $45,000 of debt.
The donation Hicks has decided to give totals $25 million. Of that money, $10 million will be used to grow the knowledge social workers have on addiction therapy, as well as on further fundraising.
Another $10 million will be used to establish a permanent fund for student scholarships. The remaining $5 million will be used to match donations by others. This will encourage further funding of the schools’ programs.
To thank the generous businessman, his alma mater has decided to re-name the social work department the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. The President of UT Austin, Gregory Fenves, applauded the donation, saying that, “by investing in our social work students, Steve Hicks is investing in a fabric that binds communities together.”