Grand Challenges for Social Work

Grand Challenges for Social Work – Policy Briefs

The Center for Social Development provided editorial support to facilitate the development of policy briefs for the September 2016 conference, Social Innovation for America’s Renewal: Ideas, Evidence, Action


 Ensure Healthy Development for All Youth – By unleashing the power of prevention through widespread use of proven approaches, we can prevent behavioral health problems and help all youth grow up to become healthy, productive adults.

 Close the Health Gap – Innovative and evidence-based social strategies can improve health care, stem alcohol misuse, and lead to broad gains in the health of our entire society.

 Stop Family Violence – Proven interventions can prevent abuse, identify abuse sooner, and help families survive and thrive by breaking the cycle of violence or finding safe alternatives.

 Advance Long and Productive Lives – Fuller engagement in education and productive activities can generate a wealth of benefits, including better health, greater financial security, and a more vital society.


 Eradicate Social Isolation – Social isolation is a silent killer, and our challenge is to promote effective ways to deepen social connections and community for people of all ages.

 End Homelessness – This challenge is to increase access to affordable housing and rental subsidies, expand proven approaches and adapt innovations for new populations.

 Create Social Responses to a Changing Environment – Changes posing profound risks to humans require new partnerships, deep engagement with local communities, and innovations to strengthen individual and collective assets.

 Harness Technology for Social Good – New technologies can be deployed to strategically target social spending, speed development of effective programs, and bring a wider array of help to more communities.


​∙ Promote Smart Decarceration – A proactive, evidence-based strategy can dramatically reduce the number of people who are imprisoned and enable the nation to embrace a more effective, just approach to public safety.

 Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality – We can correct the broad inequality of wealth and income through a variety of innovative means related to wages and tax benefits, and also strive for greater access to education.

 Build Financial Capability for All – We can significantly reduce the effects of poverty by adopting policies that bolster lifelong income and safe retirement accounts; expand workforce training; and provide financial literacy and access to quality affordable financial services.

 Achieve Equal Opportunity and Justice – Addressing racial and social injustices, dismantling inequality, exposing unfair practices, and accepting the superdiversity of the population will advance this challenge.​