Launched by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) in 2016, the Grand Challenges for Social Work (GCSW) are 13 groundbreaking initiatives meant to champion social progress that is powered by science. They are a call-to-action for those within and outside the profession of social work to collaborate together and tackle our nation’s toughest social problems.
Each month, the Mandel School will feature its faculty members' work towards the Grand Challenges. This month's focus is on Eliminating Racism.
Eliminate Racism Grand Challenge
The United States is built on a legacy of racism and white supremacy that has consistently and significantly impacted the daily lives of millions of people. Today, racist policies, bias and discriminatory practices continue to promote racial inequality in myriad ways. Social work has provided considerable leadership in the civil rights and race equity movements, but has much more work to do, internal to the profession and for society as a whole. We propose to develop a model for eliminating racism by identifying evidence and practice-based interventions that will end racism and ameliorate the negative outcomes of our history of racism.
What the Mandel School is doing to eliminate racism
Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Adrianne M. Fletcher, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, showcases some of her work towards eliminating racism in this non-exhaustive list of anti-racism trainings, facilitated dialogues, presentations and media summaries.
Community Innovation Network
Mark Chupp, founding director of the Community Innovation Network (CIN) and co-director of the Social Justice Institute, JP Graulty, program manager of the CIN, and Adrianne M. Fletcher, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, recently published an article on their joint Foundations of Community Building research in the Journal of Community Practice. ''Toward authentic university-community engagement" discusses their research focusing on racial equity and community engagement of disadvantaged neighborhoods as top priorities.
In addition, the team is working on a number of consulting projects that have a racial equity and inclusion-focused lens. As one example, they are consulting with the Federal Reserve Bank nationally to introduce community-engaged methods of research across quantitative and qualitative methods. This is in turn changing how the Fed conducts research on low-income communities of color.
The CIN and Chupp also worked with Case Western Reserve University's Office of Government and Community Relations to create the first Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) as part of their applied research on authentic university-community engagement from a social work perspective. The majority of NAC members are community residents and representatives from East Cleveland and the Fairfax, Hough and Glenville neighborhoods who will serve as community advocates to university leadership and advise on relevant issues, programs and projects that significantly impact people in their communities.
National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities
The National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities (NIMC) is on a journey to advance its anti-racism commitment and over the past year, has made many strides in doing so. Below are a few resources and updates on their work to Eliminate Racism.
How does NIMC define racial equity?
NIMC thinks about racial equity in terms of both an outcome and a process. Racial equity places priority on ensuring that people of color are afforded opportunities that they historically have been denied and from which they continue to be excluded.
- As a process, it means that Black, Brown and other people of color are actively leading the creation and implementation of policies, programs and practices that have an impact in their lives. It also means that white people are acknowledging and confronting racism and unconscious bias within themselves in addition to the sometimes flawed existing regulations that shape the places where we all live, work, learn and gather.
- As an outcome, it means that a person’s racial identity does not determine their life opportunities and results, such as access to a safe home and amenity-rich neighborhoods.
How does NIMC as an organization live out its commitment to racial equity?
The center's mission is “to promote urban equity and inclusion through impact research that achieves more effective and durable social change outcomes.” They are working to advance community and systems change strategies that build inclusion, equity and justice, and they seek to remain vigilant in this work as individuals and as an organization.
Resources for the Field
Along with the Grounded Solutions Network, NIMC leaders came together to address the need for more practical resources related to racial equity. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic movement for racial justice, they received requests from colleagues around the nation who want to eliminate embedded racism within the field of housing and community development. So, they developed two guides with the intention of sparking courageous conversations and meaningful actions focused on eliminating racism. Even those with the best intentions struggle, as it is a difficult journey to confront the inherent bias and racism that has been built into the systems in which we all live and work. They hope the guides will advance an unwavering commitment to anti-racist approaches.
Advancing Racial Equity in Housing and Community Development: An Anti-Racism Guide for Transformative Change
This guide focuses on building capacity among people working across different geographies, professional disciplines and scales through anti-racist methodologies that engage in transformative change.
This guide focuses on specific technical elements of policies, programs and practices with the goal of enhancing racial equity approaches within inclusionary housing efforts.
Mark L. Joseph, NIMC's founding director, and Amy T. Khare, its research director, published an edited volume, supported by the Kresge Foundation and published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, that includes nearly 40 essays written by practitioners, policy makers, investors, developers and others in the field of housing and community development. The goal of the volume is to demonstrate the collective effort that is taking place to foster and advance a new vision for America, which involves the creation and sustainability of the next generation of mixed-income, racially-diverse communities that foster greater intentionality about promoting inclusion and equity.
To order a hard copy of the volume, contact Case Western Reserve’s bookstore at 216.368.2650 and ask for Ann or Sarah. The books are free except for shipping costs.
As part of the What Works Volume series, Joseph and Khare also launched Bending the Arc, a podcast about inclusion, racial equity and racial justice which to date has featured eight guests. Bending the Arc explores the everyday work of creating inclusive, equitable and racially-just communities. The podcast spotlights bold thinking and action by creative, passionate, experienced thinkers and actors from cities and communities around the U.S. and Canada. Tune in to learn how to make communities diverse, vibrant places of wellbeing and opportunity.
Three Special NIMC Projects
Technical Assistance to the City of San Francisco, CA
Focused on Advancing Racial Equity and Reparations
HOPE SF is a mixed-income redevelopment initiative launched in 2006 that is working to transform four of San Francisco’s most isolated public housing developments into thriving communities of opportunity. The public-private initiative is the first citywide public housing revitalization project to establish principles to guide redevelopment, including seeking to maximize the rate of return for public housing residents. NIMC’s engagement with HOPE SF began with a strategic assessment and then the initial evaluation of the initiative in 2010. NIMC consults with the Partnership for HOPE SF's core partners (the City of San Francisco’s HOPE SF backbone team, the San Francisco Foundation, and Enterprise Community Partners) on the collective impact of the initiative and learning across the four sites. Most recently, NIMC publicly released a working version of the HOPE SF Racial Equity and Reparations Guide along with their colleagues at the HOPE SF initiative in San Francisco. They developed this guide in order to further the commitment to achieving an ambitious vision of racially and economically inclusive communities. The goal of the guide is to facilitate an atmosphere of learning, reflection and action.
Applied Research Project with the City of Cambridge, MA
Focused on Eliminating Racial Bias
NIMC is currently conducting a study to help identify any biases faced by tenants and homeowners in inclusionary housing in the City of Cambridge. In particular, the study focuses on identifying any systemic biases which may exist towards tenants and homeowners living in affordable housing from landlords, property managers, owners, neighbors or tenant/homeowner associations. Furthermore, the study explores whether residents in affordable inclusionary units experience bias more often or in different ways than residents of market-rate units in inclusionary developments or residents of all-affordable developments.
Research Study with the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) in Chicago, IL
Focused on Comprehensive Community Change Strategies
NIMC recently completed a two-year research project focused on the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, which was one of the first Choice Neighborhood communities in the nation. The findings are reported in a recent publication, From the Ground Up: Housing as a Catalyst for Community-Driven Redevelopment in Chicago’s Majority-Black Woodlawn Neighborhood. We found that majority-Black, low- and moderate-income neighborhoods typically do not experience investment or positive changes in the physical and social environment on the scale of what happened in Woodlawn, making this community-driven effort to change the neighborhood’s trajectory an important case for national attention.
Social Justice Institute
The CWRU Social Justice Institute examines the root causes of social injustice and develops innovative solutions by supporting creative research, scholarship and pedagogy, social justice leaders and relationships within the university and into the community. They provide funding to graduate students doing research on racism and have held many events around racial justice, among other initiatives.
Other Mandel School faculty members' work towards the Grand Challenges
The Grand Challenges for Social Work
Individual and family well-being
- Ensure healthy development for youth
- Close the health gap
- Build healthy relationships to end violence
- Advance long and productive lives
Stronger social fabric
- Eradicate social isolation
- End homelessness
- Create social responses to a changing environment
- Harness technology for social good
- Eliminate racism
- Promote smart decarceration
- Build financial capability and assets for all
- Reduce extreme economic inequality
- Achieve equal opportunity and justice
The GCSW publishes a monthly newsletter to highlight Grand Challenges-related activities at universities and partner organizations, including, but not limited to, research, curriculum, classroom and student projects, policy activities and practice-based work. Submissions from within and outside the profession of social work are welcome, as the 13 Grand Challenges are goals for society and require interdisciplinary collaboration. Due by the 10th of each month, the monthly themes are:
- January: Eliminate racism
- February: Achieve equal opportunity and justice
- March: Promote smart decarceration
- April: Build financial capability and assets for all + Reduce extreme economic inequality
- May: Ensure healthy development for youth
- June: Eradicate social isolation
- July: Harness technology for social good
- August: Create social responses to a changing environment
- September: Advance long and productive lives
- October: Build healthy relationships to end violence
- November: End homelessness
- December: Close the health gap