Photo of tulips blooming in front of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences sign

Case Western Reserve’s Mandel School signs new partnerships, offering scholarships to employees at four local nonprofit organizations 

Highly trained social workers are at the forefront of addressing a significant mental and behavioral health need in Northeast Ohio—especially the opioid epidemic, in which Ohio ranks among the worst in the nation.

Promoting skilled workforce development in behavioral health is partly what’s driving new strategic partnerships forged among four area nonprofit organizations and Case Western Reserve University’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

The Mandel School recently signed the four new agreements with service providers— FrontLine Service, Bellefaire JCB, Murtis Taylor Human Services and the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD)—to recruit and train diverse students for its Master of Social Work (MSW) program, ranked No. 9 in the country and No. 1 in Ohio. Prospective students will be eligible for 50% scholarships.

Photo of Dexter Voisin
Dexter Voisin

“This is part of an effort to build strategic relationships to address an overall need of trained social workers in our community,” said Mandel School Dean Dexter Voisin. “I believe it is part of our community responsibility to elevate and foster talent from inside the same neighborhoods where social workers serve.”

Voisin said the goal is to enroll about 10 employees from each of the four organizations, noting that full-time, part-time Weekend MSW and Online MSW program formats are available. 

These partnerships come on the heels of a $5 million dollar grant the Mandel School received from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation to support student scholarships, where select students can receive up to an additional $20,000 in tuition.  

Economists expect a shortage of 195,000 social workers nationally by 2030, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“This partnership with the Mandel School is a win for children and families as we work to meet the community demand for behavioral health services amidst a system-wide shortage of mental-health professionals,” said Jeffrey Lox, executive director of Bellefaire JCB. “By making an advanced social-work degree accessible to our staff, we can be assured that they will continue to meet the current and emerging needs of our community.”

“This is a transformative multi-year collaboration providing educational opportunities and benefits to our current and future human services workforce,” said Lovell Custard, president and CEO of Murtis Taylor Human Services System. “By removing financial barriers and offering professionals the flexibility to attend classes around their work schedules, this collaboration will create unprecedented access to Case Western Reserve University’s world-renowned Mandel School. In addition to enhancing professional growth, it will also strengthen neighborhoods, promote equity, and advance social justice.”

“We are excited to partner with the Mandel School to offer graduate-level educational opportunities to Cuyahoga DD staff,” said Amber C. Gibbs, superintendent and CEO of the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “Cuyahoga DD is committed to continuous learning, and we know that having highly trained staff only improves our ability to deliver on our mission and provide the best services and supports to the people we serve.”

“The FrontLine Service Scholars program is a result of the agency’s anti-racism work that recognizes the need to lower one of the most significant barriers employees of color face when pursuing career advancement,” said Meredith Black, director of human resources at FrontLine Service. “FrontLine is thrilled to partner with Case Western Reserve University to provide professional development, elevate services in our community and take steps toward diversifying FrontLine’s leadership.”

For more information, contact Colin McEwen at

This article was originally published Feb. 29, 2024.