Funding Initiative: DGPL Social Work Program

When you make a donation the Downers Grove Public Library Foundation, every dollar goes back to the library you love and manifests in a variety of ways. In 2021, DGPLF committed to fund 2 year’s worth (2022-2023) of a stipend used to compensate two part time interns (committing to between 225-300 hours per semester-Spring, Summer, Fall) as part of the library’s social work program.

The library began a social work program in early 2020 in partnership with students from Aurora University to help individuals in the community address the needs of patrons seeking referrals for services like domestic violence shelters, assistance with housing needs, literacy tutoring, locating food pantries, eligibility for Medicaid and more. Observing needs of individuals in the community, and recognizing that library staff were feeling increasingly unequipped to address the needs of patrons seeking referrals, student interns are able to increase findability and awareness of resources, as well as work with patrons one on one to assess personalized needs and offer referrals.

Why $15 Per Hour?

Providing a paid stipend (at a rate of $15 per hour) not only compensates students for their time and contributions, but also attracts a qualified candidate pool while eliminating barriers for low-income and underrepresented individuals from participating in the program. Without official plans to incorporate a social work intern stipend into the current library budget, library staff approached the foundation seeing a need to fill this gap in service.

What is the Status of the Program Now?

The Foundation has committed to funding this program through 2023, however, additional financial support is needed to make this commitment a reality. With increasing parallels between library work and the need to share social services with the public, this program provides vital services that serve all patrons who walk through the library’s doors and further enforces the commitment to inclusion. In the first four months of 2022, two social work interns have provided nearly 30 direct interactions with 7 different patrons in need, along with roughly 20 referrals. These interactions vary in length from brief check ins or scheduling future meeting times, to more lengthy one on one needs assessments which could result in one or multiple referrals for outside services. Referrals include resources for a variety of needs fulfilled by a diversity of outside organizations (PADS, 360 Youth Services, The Community Kitchen, People’s Resource Center, Catholic Charities and more).

Your donation to the Foundation helps make this program sustainable throughout the next two years. If knowing that the library is a space open to and for everyone is important to you, please consider showing your support by making a donation.