GCSW Announces Inaugural Doctoral Awardees

For Immediate Release
Contact: GCSocialWork@ssw.umaryland.edu

BALTIMORE, January 20, 2023 – The Grand Challenges for Social Work today announced its inaugural cohort of doctoral awardees, awarding fellowships to 13 social work doctoral students designed to bolster their commitment to careers tackling some of our biggest societal challenges.

GCSW, a singular initiative that champions social progress powered by science, will provide each graduate student a mentoring program and a $3,000 stipend to support research that better connects their dissertation or capstone project to the people and communities they are studying.

The awards are the first in a two-year effort – funded with a $100,000 grant from The New York Community Trust – to enable 26 doctoral students to turn their research findings into proposals for policy and practice changes addressing one or more of the identified 13 Grand Challenges.

Beyond supporting policy and practice proposals, a main benefit of the fellowships is to broaden the pipeline of social workers equipped for and committed to tackling and surmounting those 13 Grand Challenges. Each of this year’s recipients is addressing a different one of them in their research.

“The emerging generation of social work scholars holds tremendous potential to be a force for societal good, and this group of graduate students captures that intense commitment and talent,” said Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work in Baltimore and Chair of the GCSW Executive Committee. “We are thrilled to assist this diverse group of scholars to advance their careers and concurrently build a deeper and broader scientific basis for social work.”

GCSW partnered closely with the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education (GADE), and other critical stakeholders to ensure the call for applications was distributed widely and provided equal opportunity for candidates in both PhD and DSW programs through the application and review process.

A solid majority of the fellowships will support dissertations or capstone projects that can be translated into policies or practices that combat racism, promote diversity, or improve equity.

These are the 13 award-winning scholars, the Grand Challenges they are addressing, their universities and the titles of their projects:

Nehal Eldeeb (Ensure Healthy Development for All Youth), University of California, Berkeley: Centering Parent Voice: Exploring Parents’ Needs and Preferences
Aaron Kemmerer (End Homelessness), Virginia Commonwealth University: Transgender and Gender Expansive Southerners experiences with housing instability
Jessica Marroquin (Close the Health Gap), Arizona State University: Exploring the Mental Health and Quality of Life of Latinx Young Adults with Autism
Bethany Medley (Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality), Columbia University: Promoting social justice for peer workers using critical participatory action research
Colleen Cummings Melton (Create Social Responses to a Changing Environment), University of Denver: Youth climate action in the Denver Public School Systems
Andrea Mora (Build Healthy Relationships to End Violence), University of Michigan: Protective factors for exposure to community violence and neighborhood-based sexual harassment among Latino/a adolescents in the U.S. and Mexico
Sarah Pace (Harness Technology for Social Good), University of South Carolina: Impact of Information and Communication Technology on Social Connectedness Among Older Adults
JaNiene Peoples (Eliminate Racism), Washington University in St. Louis: Mechanisms Linking Racial Discrimination and Substance Use in Black College Students: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study
Tony Salaam (Promote Smart Decarceration), Aurora University: The Challenges of Traumatic Stress in Chicago-Based Black Men Convicted of Violent Crimes
Bonnie Scranton (Eradicate Social Isolation), University of Pennsylvania: Development and Evaluation of an Online Peer Support Program for Caregivers of Children with Variations of Sex Characteristics
Alexis Tsoukalas (Achieve Equal Opportunity & Justice), University of Central Florida: Inequities in state human trafficking policymaking
Cliff Whetung (Advance Long & Productive Lives), New York University: Weathering the Storm of Cognitive Inequities: Testing the Minority Stress and Cognition Model with Indigenous Older Adults
Yingying Zeng (Build Financial Capability & Assets for All), Washington University in St. Louis: Immigrants’ Experiences of Asset Building: Implications for Asset-Based Policies  

GCSW offers an honorable mention to these 12 doctoral students:

Brittney Autry, University of Pennsylvania: Addressing Sexual Violence in Black Women: Towards Culturally Responsive Integration
Arlene Bjugstad, University of Houston: Institutional and Environmental Predictors of Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Skills Among Minoritized Youth: An International Perspective
Katherine Calhoun, University of Denver: Guaranteed Income as a Structural Social Work Response to Homelessness in the U.S.
Tasha Childs, University of South Carolina: Working toward Eliminating Racism in Schools: A Mixed Method Study of How Teachers’ Racial Bias Relates to Student-Teacher Relationships
Monica De la Cruz, University of California, Berkeley: Negative narratives in the discourses of poverty
Chenglin Hong, University of California Los Angeles: Technology-based interventions for IPV prevention
MinJee Keh, University of California, Berkeley: Structural-Institutional Approach to Understanding and Addressing Work-Family Conflict: Disparities in Problem and Intervention
Lester Kern, University of Chicago: Between two worlds: A case study of a psychiatric emergency department in Milwaukee
Cherra Mathis, Arizona State University: A Critical Ethnography of Arizona Immigration Courts
Nancy Jacquelyn Pérez-Flores, Washington University in St. Louis: Examining Mass Media, Mental Health Literacy, and Public Stigma Among the Latinx Population Residing in Nontraditional Receiving Communities
Peter Sun, Washington University in St. Louis: Rural Health Disparities: The Influence of Productive Engagement in Later Life
Kathryn Wright, Wayne State University: Personhood, Identity and Ableism in Schools: Youth with disability confront marginalization

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About the Grand Challenges for Social Work

In 2016, the GCSW initiative was launched to harness the ingenuity, expertise, dedication, and creativity of individuals and organizations within the field of social work and beyond to champion “social progress powered by science.” The fivefold mission of the GCSW is to identify the nation’s major social challenges; gather evidence-based practice models built on rigorous science; design imaginative, effective, and culturally relevant solutions; promote policies and professional practices that lead to positive change; and advance sustainable initiatives that achieve the positive impacts for all families and communities, tribal nations, and society as a whole. It is under the fiscal umbrella of the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation.

About the New York Community Trust

Founded in 1924, The Trust is a grantmaking foundation dedicated to improving the lives of residents of New York City and its suburbs. It brings together individuals, families, foundations, and businesses to build a better community and support nonprofits that make a difference. It applies knowledge, creativity, and resources to the most challenging issues to ensure meaningful opportunities and a better quality of life for all New Yorkers, today and tomorrow.

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