Hand-in-hand with education and policy work,
involving social work practitioners in the Grand
Challenges is imperative to achieving "social
progress through science." During the first five
years of the GCSW, there have been a variety
of innovative and far reaching efforts geared
toward and involving the practice community.
• Skills webinars on policy and practice have been
offered regularly to help social workers become
more effective advocates. Topics have ranged from
Stay Home? Housing Inequities, COVID-19, and
Social Welfare Policy Responses to Making Change:
Messaging Your Issue for Policy Audiences.
• Several of the Grand Challenges have been
featured in podcasts conducted by social workers,
including Create Social Responses to a Changing
Environment and Smart Decarceration.
• A PhD candidate at the University of Utah College
of Social Work developed a state-of-the-art virtual
reality photography-based simulation tool to help
social workers assess in-home risks and protective
factors for child abuse.
• Harness Technology for Social Good led a
webinar series on several ways technology has
been incorporated into social work practice.
• Leaders of Grand Challenges networks have been
instrumental in implementing programs and
tools - such as SurvivorLink, MyPlan, SWVirtualPal,
and GenPRIDE Center - that help social work
practitioners and the people with whom they work.
• The Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health
has developed four training modules for students,
practitioners, and the public on prevention practice,
policy, and research.
The GCSW has also strengthened its organizational and leadership structure and sought to
create a sustainable funding strategy. It has
invested in bolstering communications across
the initiative and advancing a wide range
of academic and other opportunities to share
knowledge and ideas.
Growing momentum and increasing participation in the initiative over its first four years
led to a reorganization in October 2019. A
new, more traditional structure now includes
an interdisciplinary Leadership Board with
external partners and a five-member Executive
Committee. These changes have strengthened
leadership's ability to facilitate the work of the
13 Grand Challenges networks, address diversity issues, and better position the initiative to
secure external support and funding.
Other organizational highlights over the first
five years include:
• Developing a comprehensive statement to guide
all of the work of the Grand Challenges
Adopted in February 2019, this includes a Vision,
Mission, Domain, Guiding Principles, & Guideposts
• Creating sponsorship opportunities
Sponsorships fund further development of research,
inter-university collaboration, and a wider public
understanding of the broad aims and tools of social
work. Funds also support infrastructure, including
administration, the 13 Grand Challenge networks,
webinars, website updates, coordination across
networks, communications, and vital connections
with other social work organizations and partners.
There have been six Premier Sponsors and 30
Sustaining Sponsors, as well as several contributing
and individual sponsors since 2017. (Contributing
sponsorships are $1,000, Sustaining sponsorships
are $2,500 per school/organization, and Premier
sponsorships are $7,500 per school/organization.)
8 | Progress and Plans for the Grand Challenges