WESLACO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced the launch of multi-million dollar expansion grants on Tuesday.

The School of Psychology at UTRGV has received a total of three grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $17.1 million.

The grant will allow graduate students from UTRGV’s school psychology, counseling, and social work programs to train in-practice over the next five years in school districts from Brownsville to Laredo.

“There’s a tremendous shortage of behavioral health professionals, social workers, school psychologists, and counselors in our schools, nationwide,” said Luis Torres Hostos, Dean of the School of Social Work.

According to Hostos, the Valley is one of the most underserved areas in terms of behavioral health providers.

“The grant makes a dent in those numbers, increasing the number of behavioral health providers for students, improving the ratio of behavioral health provider to students significantly,” Hostos said.

The grant will pay for a student’s stipend during their train in-practice. After their training is complete, the school district will hire the student into their school.

The university will train a total of 250 graduate students over the next five years.