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June 2019

Get Involved!

In this edition of UP! we highlight some of the Grand Challenges activity going on since March. For all of our news, follow our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, or watch our YouTube videos. 

GCSW Wikipedia Article 
Help us build out the Grand Challenges for Social Work Wikipedia article! Wikipedia rules prevent GCSW staff from making further additions to the page, so your assistance is critical. Please take a look and contribute where appropriate. Thank you! Questions? Email us.

GCSW is Hiring! 
Are you looking for a new opportunity to advance the work of the Grand Challenges for Social Work? Want to be involved in a broader way? The GCSW is hiring a senior administrator to be responsible for planning and overseeing the short- and long-term strategic planning and strategies for programmatic success of the GCSW. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the GCSW administrative team, please review the job description and apply online before July 1, 2019.

Website note: We are in the process of ‘refreshing’ the GCSW website to better organize content and provide easier access to our resources and information. We’ll make an announcement about the new site as soon as it’s live!
If you’ve got news about a Grand Challenge project or activity, please share it with us for the newsletter and post to our Facebook groupUpcoming newsletter deadlines: September 15 and December 15. Please also forward this to anyone interested in the Grand Challenges for Social Work. 
News & Opportunities

Each issue we bring you news about advances and opportunities in a variety of Grand Challenge areas.
NYU Silver Study Counters Narrative that Street Homeless Are “Service Resistant”
A team of researchers from the NYU Silver School of Social Work, led by End Homelessness Grand Challenge network co-lead Professor Deborah Padgett, and in partnership with, has found that bureaucratic barriers rather than personal intransigence lead many street homeless people in New York City to refuse outreach workers’ offers of shelter. Read about the study and Dr. Padgett's work.
Dr. Padgett also served on the planning committee for the third annual National Symposium on Solutions to End Youth Homelessness, sponsored by NYU Silver and Point Source Youth, and led one of the first sessions on Implementing Community Driven Research and Evaluation in Youth Programs. More than 800 stakeholders, including youth, nonprofit leaders, researchers, policy makers, and funders participated in the symposium’s numerous plenaries, panels, and workshops organized in research and data, systems and interventions, and youth and advocacy tracks. Videos of all of the sessions will be posted at later this summer.  
Special Interest Group on Social Isolation 
An interdisciplinary group has established a Loneliness and Social Isolation Interest Group within the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). The first meeting of this special interest group will take place at the November 2019 scientific meeting of GSA in Austin, TX. If you or your colleagues are attending the GSA meeting and are interested in the Grand Challenge to Eradicate Social Isolation, please consider joining. More details will be provided on GCSW social media as we get closer to the meeting date.
Advancing the Work of the Grand Challenge Promote Smart Decarceration
On May 4, 2019, graduate student leaders of "Justice Works," a student organization at The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, organized and hosted “Envisioning a Transformed Justice System,” a symposium with over 150 participants that included elected officials, clinicians, researchers, community organizers, students, and formerly incarcerated individuals. The symposium had over 30 speakers who brought their professional and personal experiences with smart decarceration and criminal justice transformation in realms of policy, restorative justice practice, and prisoner's rights. The event was supported and funded by a wide variety of centers and units at the University of Chicago, including the Smart Decarceration Project, directed by Matthew Epperson, PhD, network co-lead for the Grand Challenge to Promote Smart Decarceration. Pictured: Symposium organizers Briana Payton, Mario McHarris, Ameenah Rashid, and Chelsea Hopson.

IJRD Announces Inaugural Class of Post-Master's Fellows

Promote Smart Decarceration Grand Challenge Co-leader, Dr. Carrie Pettus-Davis, and the Institute for Justice Research and Development (IJRD), housed at Florida State University’s College of Social Work, is pleased to announce the start of the Post-Master’s Fellowship at the intersection of Social Work and Criminal Justice. The inaugural class of 16 Fellows will advance the guiding concepts of smart decarceration in an effort to reduce our country’s incarcerated population in ways that are effective, sustainable, and socially just. Details about the fellowship and the inaugural class.
NYU Team Selected Finalist in Longevity Design Challenge
NYU Silver School of Social Work Assistant Professor Ernest Gonzales, co-lead of the Grand Challenge to Advance Long and Productive Lives, led a team that was one of eight finalists in the Stanford Center on Longevity’s 2018-2019 Longevity Design Challenge. The team's i² Housing intergenerational interdependence initiative builds on traditional home sharing to address the national challenges of rising student debt, social isolation, declining health, and affordable housing among college students and older adults. More.
Colorado Schools Create Dual-Degree Program, Connecting with GCs 
Colorado State University School of Social Work and Colorado School of Public Health are #Up4theChallenge! Congratulations to the first graduates of the dual-degree program, highlighting the connections with the 12 Grand Challenges. “In order for our professions to truly address such daunting and intractable issues, we need to join together for the strength of transdisciplinary, cross-sectoral, collaborative efforts to advance practice, policy and research,” said Audrey Shillington, PhD, Director of the School of Social Work. Read more.
Climate Change as Social Justice Featured on inSocialWork Podcast
In recognition of Earth Week in April, Lisa Reyes Mason, PhD, network co-lead for the Grand Challenge to Create Social Responses to a Changing Environment, was interviewed on inSocialWork®, a podcast series from University at Buffalo School of Social Work. Dr. Reyes Mason takes the social work mantra of "person-in-environment" and in the interview describes her work related to global environmental change. Applying a social and economic justice perspective, she discusses the impact that social work research, education and practice has on shaping our responses to challenges that will continue to challenge those of us living on Planet Earth. Dr. Reyes Mason and her coauthor on the book People and Climate Change, Jonathan Rigg, PhD, also recently wrote a piece on climate change for Oxford University Press blogLearn more about the Grand Challenge to Create Social Responses to a Changing Environment.
GCSW-Supported Conference on Race, Inequality and Social Mobility
More than 225 people from around the country gathered at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis for the inaugural conference of the Collaboration on Race, Inequality, and Social Mobility in America, March 28-29, 2019. The event, “Race at the Forefront: Sharpening a Focus on Race in Applied Research,” brought together scholars who are working toward the elimination of racial inequalities in social, economic and health outcomes. For more information and to access the event recordings, visit the Center for Social Development website
Harnessing Technology for Social Good 
Imagine walking into an unfamiliar home to assess risks and protective factors for child abuse; now, imagine doing this without ever leaving your desk. Chad McDonald, a PhD candidate and faculty member at the University of Utah College of Social Work, developed this idea while trying to improve training for undergraduate students and employees at the Division of Child and Family Services. McDonald and his colleagues' work fits within the Grand Challenge to Harness Technology for Social Good by collaborating with students and experts from the university’s Therapeutic Games and Apps (GApp) Lab to produce a state-of-the-art virtual reality photography-based simulation tool. Learn more. Pictured: Martell Teasley, PhD, Dean of the University of Utah College of Social Work and Grand Challenge Executive Committee member, tries out the virtual reality simulation tool with Chad McDonald and Matt Davis.
#NYUSilverUp4TheChallenge Student Competition
The Silver School of Social Work’s inaugural #NYUSilverUp4TheChallenge Student Competition, inspired by the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative, came to a successful conclusion at the competition finals in early April. Anna Nathanson, MSW ’19, was named the Grand Challenges for Social Work Scholar for her concept addressing the “End Homelessness” challenge with a focus on how New York City can take an anti-racist stance in its efforts towards eviction prevention.

The event was the culmination of a seven-month-long, student-led competition, which was launched by the Silver School at the start of the academic year to inspire students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to apply the core social work values to address one or more of the pressing social issues in the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative. It was co-created by Class of 2019 MSW students Mary Burns and Elijah Thompson, and coordinated by Burns throughout the academic year under the guidance of the School’s Office of Student Affairs. “We believe our Grand Challenges student competition is the first of its kind among schools of social work, and we are proud to have led the charge,” said Dr. Neil Guterman, Dean and Paulette Goddard Professor of Social Work and Grand Challenges Executive Committee member. “We hope it inspires other schools to engage with the Grand Challenges to strengthen the profession." Pictured left to right: Mary Burns, Anna Nathanson and Dean Guterman.
USC Article on Activism and Advocacy Highlights Grand Challenges 
In an effort to encourage social workers to discover meaningful ways to shape policy and influence politics, the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work created an article on how social workers and others can get involved in activism and make a lasting difference. The piece includes a list of organizations that address the 12 Grand Challenges of Social Work where individuals can begin their advocacy efforts. Access the article here.
Collaborating for Impact on the U.S. Southern Border 
The University of Washington School of Social Work recently launched, with UCLA Luskin Social Welfare, a story about its joint service trip to the largest detention center for women and children refugees near the Mexican border. The project exemplifies the Grand Challenges emphasis on collaborative efforts to create change. For the story, video, related articles and podcasts visit the website.
The Center for the Advancement of Critical Time Intervention Works to End Homelessness
The Center for the Advancement of Critical Time Intervention (CACTI) at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work focuses on dissemination of Critical Time Intervention (CTI), an evidence-based social work model that aims to prevent homelessness by mobilizing support for vulnerable individuals during periods of transition. Uptake of the model, which has been widely studied and applied with people with mental illness, veterans, homeless families and others, continues to increase in the US and elsewhere. To learn more about the CTI model, visit the website

Policy Activity

Child Development Accounts 
Universal and progressive Child Development Accounts (CDA) is one of the policy recommendations in two Grand Challenges: Build Financial Capability for All and Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality.

In May, Nebraska joined several states who have implemented CDAs. Michael Sherraden, PhD, Grand Challenges Executive Committee member and director of the Center for Social Development at the Brown School at Washington University at St. Louis, praised the development: “Nebraska’s new CDA is an important step in national CDA policy innovation—all of it informed by findings from the SEED for Oklahoma Kids experiment.” Dr. Sherraden is the principal investigator of the SEED OK experiment, by which CSD and partners continue to test a statewide CDA policy with the Oklahoma 529 plan.

“SEED OK is rigorous applied research, with results now influencing social policy change in Nebraska and other states, as well as in Canada, Israel, Korea, Taiwan, and other countries,” observed Sherraden. “CSD research has real impacts; it is not collecting dust on the shelves.”

Legislative Briefing on Youth Mental Health 
A legislative briefing titled “The Decarceration of Transition Age Youth with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and Mental Disorders: Responding to an Emerging Problem” was held on May 15, 2019 in Washington, D.C., as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. Speakers discussed the increasing numbers of transition age youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) and mental illness who have become incarcerated in our county and city jails, and the impact this has had, including from a family point of view. Potential solutions such as decarceration and diversion of these youth into community services; prevention of incarceration through better outreach and care coordination; and better use of home and community-based services were shared. Grand Challenge Executive Committee member Ron Manderscheid, PhD, executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, was a lead organizer of the event. 

Capitol Hill Briefing on Reducing Weapons and Violence in Schools and Communities
The American Educational Research Association, the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, and the National Academy of Education held a congressional briefing to address current scientific data surrounding the pressing need to reduce violence in schools and communities on June 12, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Experts presented empirical research detailing the impact of gun violence on the education and well-being of students, their families, and local communities and addressed the evidence-based policies and practices that can assist with successfully mitigating weapons and violence, increasing student empowerment, and enhancing community safety.

In addition to AERA, AASWSW, and NAE, sponsoring organizations included the American Psychological Association; Brady Campaign; Clark-Fox Policy Institute, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis; Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy; Grand Challenges for Social Work; National Association for Rural Mental Health; National Association of County Behavioral Health and Development Disability Directors; National Association of Social Workers; and School Social Worker Association of America. 

If you have policy updates to share with Grand Challenges, please email Lissa Johnson, Director of Policy Initiatives.
Books & Publications
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Special Issue of Social Work: Mainstreaming Gender 
Jill Theresa Messing, MSW, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Director of the Office of Gender Based Violence at the Arizona State University, is editing a special issue of Social Work on Mainstreaming Gender: An Intersectional Feminist Perspective on Social Work's Grand Challenges. Submissions that address gender across all of the Grand Challenges are of particular interest. Deadline: July 15, 2019. More information.  
Now available from NASW Press
Grand Challenges for Society is intended to be a primary resource for social work researchers, practitioners, policymakers, faculty, and students. It not only provides the most up-to-date research, but also alerts the field to gaps in the literature that still need to be explored to achieve the aims of the Grand Challenges for Social Work. The book was edited by the recent editors-in-chief of four NASW Press journals:

Social Work: Tricia B. Bent-Goodley, PhD, LICSW
Health & Social Work: Stephen H. Gorin, PhD
Children & School: Martell L. Teasley, PhD, MSW—Grand Challenges Executive Committee, and
Social Work Research: James Herbert Williams, PhD, MSW, MPA—Grand Challenges Executive Committee
Smart Decarceration Practice Behaviors for Social Work Competencies: A Guide for Educators and Learners
This publication was developed by members of the Promote Smart Decarceration Grand Challenge Education Working Group, led by Dr. Phillipe Copeland at Boston University and Dr. Stephen Tripodi at Florida State University. It provides guidance for instructors and students on incorporating “smart decarceration” as a focus for social work education in a format that follows the CSWE social work competencies, incorporating smart decarceration-related practice behaviors for ready application in classroom curricula and field practicums.
Calls for Abstracts & Papers

Wichita State University School of Social Work 
17th Annual POWER Conference
March 5-6, 2020
Mulvane, KS

The Wichita State University School of Social Work and the POWER Conference Committee are soliciting proposals for presentation at the 17th annual POWER Conference March 5- 6, 2020. The conference theme is the Grand Challenges for Social Work. Presenting at this annual conference is a great opportunity to educate your peers on your area of expertise! More information and submission materials.

Submission deadline: August 1, 2019
Financial Capability and Asset Building Conference 2020  
September 23-25, 2020
St. Louis, MO

The Center for Social Development in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Maryland School of Social Work invite proposals for research papers for its Financial Capability and Asset Building Research Convening to be held on September 23-25, 2020 in St. Louis, MO.

Scholars are invited to submit papers that (a) analyze financial vulnerability and explore strategies to improve financial well‐being, (b) assess FCAB policy and practice among vulnerable populations, or (c) examine FCAB teaching approaches. Papers should identify the roles and contributions of social workers in policy practice. Three themes guide the research sought for this announcement: (1) social work practice, (2) social work education, and (3) social policy. Additional details.

Submission deadline: September 3, 2019
Upcoming Events

2019 Western Consortium Meeting
September 13, 2019
Fort Collins, CO

Colorado State University will host the 2019 Grand Challenges for Social Work Western Consortium Meeting on September 13, 2019, 9am-4:30pm. The theme of the meeting is "Town-Gown Community Partnerships and the Infusion of the Grand Challenges." Stay tuned for more information! For immediate questions, contact Audrey Shillington

Council on Social Work Education
October 24-27, 2019
Denver, CO

CSWE’s Annual Program Meeting (APM) is the place where social work education influencers collaborate, learn, teach, and grow. This year’s theme is Social Work Education: Looking Back, Looking Forward. More information.
GCSW: Vision, Principles and Mission
We are pleased to share with you the “GCSW Vision, Mission, Domain, Guiding Principles, & Guideposts to Action.” This document, developed with input from the Grand Challenges community, is a guide for the Grand Challenges for Social Work as a national initiative, as well as for each of the 12 Grand Challenges. The commitment to ending racism and other injustices is fundamental throughout the Grand Challenges. We expect this to be a living document, with periodic revisions.
GCSW YouTube Channel
Have you seen the GCSW YouTube channel featuring webinar recordings and more? Take a look! If you have videos related to Grand Challenges and would like them placed on the GCSW channel, please contact

We invite your university to help support
the Grand Challenges for Social Work with a financial contribution.

In addition to Sustaining Sponsor ($2,500), this year we’ve introduced a Premier Sponsor level for larger contributions. Your sponsorship will help support core staffing, communications activities, collaborations within the social work community and with interdisciplinary partners, coordination among networks, and much more.

To pledge your support, contact Isabelle Garcia.

Thank you to our early 2019 sponsors!

Premier Sponsors

Arizona State University 
New York University 
University of Maryland 
University of Washington 

Sustaining Sponsors
Boston University 
Case Western University
Fordham University 
University of Alabama 
University at Buffalo 
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Chicago 
University of Georgia  
University of Illinois 
University of Kentucky 
University of Louisville
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 
University of Pennsylvania 
University of Pittsburgh 
University of Southern California
Individual contributions to the GCSW are also welcomed!
Help create a more just society.
Donate to the Grand Challenges for Social Work.

By contributing to the GCSW, you are helping fund the administration of the Grand Challenges for Social Work and our work to promote the initiative within social work, as well as to researchers, practitioners and professionals from related fields and disciplines nationwide.

Your support will help:
  • Build on social work’s rich history of creating and implementing large-scale social innovation.
  • Set a bold and broad social agenda to help solve today’s biggest problems.
  • Galvanize science to guide social progress.
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