Scholarship support for Native social work students

The John and Sophie Ottens Foundation recently provided a commitment for an additional $400,000 in scholarship support for Native American students at the University of Denver’s Four Corners Master of Social Work (MSW) Program, based in Durango, Colo. The foundation established the scholarship fund in 2012, and the additional gift will be used to support recruitment and retention of Native students.

“It’s the mission of our foundation to support Native Americans in Four Corners states in health and health education, including social work,” explains Dr. Henry Hooper, the foundation’s board president. “It’s so unusual to have a private university like DU offering a program like this, and we also know there’s a major need in the area for professionals who can provide leadership roles, both on and off the reservations. We’ve been so pleased with the way the program has introduced a Native American focus into its classes, and that fits our mission very well.”

The Four Corners MSW Program was founded in 2002 by DU’s Graduate School of Social Work to help meet the human services needs of rural and tribal communities in the Four Corners region that includes southwestern Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. The program enables Four Corners residents to earn the MSW degree in or near their home communities.

About 25 percent of Four Corners students come from the area’s many Native tribes, the curriculum includes two specialized courses on Native social work, both taught by Native faculty. A Native Advisory Council is among the community partners providing ongoing guidance to the program.

Learn more about the Four Corners MSW Program by visiting and clicking on “Academic Programs,” or contact program director Wanda Ellingson at 970-247-9773 or

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