Giving Day raises nearly $7,000 for School of Social Work

The School of Social Work successfully participated in VCU’s first-ever Giving Day in April, surpassing our goal by raising $6,946 from 37 gifts. Overall, VCU raised $2.7 million.

These gifts were earmarked to support our Pay It Forward Emergency Fund, which has provided direct assistance for students in emergency situations since being established in 2021. "I continue to witness firsthand how this support allows students to continue pursuing their educational dreams," Interim Dean Rebecca Gomez, Ph.D., says.

VCU. 37 donors. VCU Giving Day. Thank you for your support
VCU. $6,946 raised VCU Giving Day. Thank you for your support.

For two social work students, that one-time financial support made all the difference:

  • “The funds I received (from) Pay It Forward allowed me to repair my car that was vital to attending the various prenatal appointments, and created greater financial freedom and flexibility for me to pay a security deposit down for a great apartment that me and my little one are lucky enough to call home after years of me being unstably housed.”
  • “The assistance that I received from the School of Social Work's Pay It Forward Fund allowed me to successfully complete my third semester of my M.S.W. Program as a single parent. Because of the Pay It Forward Fund, I was able to pay for my preschool aged daughter's child care, which enabled me to focus on my studies as well as being present and attentive with my internship.”

Four decades later, the memory of financial stress helped motivate Patricia Frankel, whose husband is social work alum Stephen Frankel (M.S.W.’79/SW), to donate to the Pay It Forward Fund.

“First, in Judaism, it’s a mitzvah to help people in need. Second, more personally, I remember all too well, even 40 years later, what it was like when I was in college and had unexpected expenses,” she says. “I didn’t have any place to turn for help. It was really hard – shame-inducing and incredibly anxiety-provoking. 

“I don’t want others to go through that. University should be a good experience. Especially in social work, it should be a place where students feel they have a safety net when they need one. And if the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s taught us that everyone will need a net sometime. Providing that is what social work is all about, after all.”

Meet James V. Romanik (M.B.A.'22/B), director of development

Headshot of James Romanik
James V. Romanik (M.B.A.'22/B)

James V. Romanik (M.B.A.'22/B) joined the VCU School of Social Work in April 2022. We asked him to share his perspective on social work values, his role and the impact of development and alumni engagement.

I think I’ve always had a strong affinity for social work. My mother spent her career as a social worker with the state of Connecticut. As a child I didn’t necessarily understand what she did day-to-day. I knew that it was important and that people relied on her. As I look back on the values that she and my father instilled in me, I see how rooted they are in social work. My parents taught my brother and me about the importance of empathy, the need to advocate for social justice, and the responsibility of service. These same values are coupled with a strong belief in the power of philanthropy to help make the world a better place. When I saw an opportunity to bring these together and strive to advance the mission of the VCU School of Social Work, my choice was clear. 

It’s a privilege to work in development and alumni relations at the VCU School of Social Work. Every day, I know that I will be able to connect people’s passions with opportunities that will make a difference. That connection is what drives what we do. By approaching our work with understanding and care, we can create meaningful ways for our community to engage in the life of the school and promote critical access for all the school’s students. 

There are a number of ways to make an impact at the VCU School of Social Work. Scholarships are key, providing critical funds to reduce student debt and increase affordability. The school is fortunate to offer over 30 endowed scholarships and we are exceptionally grateful for the generous alumni and friends who have made these commitments. To support students while they’re enrolled, the school has also prioritized two funds. The Pay It Forward Fund works to meet emergency needs – it’s been instrumental in helping students in crisis finish their degree. The Field Fund helps to unlock this crucial aspect of social work education, lending funds to support field-related needs and stipend opportunities for students enrolled in field education. Members of our community can also engage with the school as volunteers. Whether speaking in class, serving as a field instructor, or supporting students as an alumni mentor, you can provide service to the school that ensures students can thrive and move into the world as the changemakers that we need them to be. 

Supporting the School of Social Work

If you would like to learn more about ways that you can make a difference at the School of Social Work, contact James at