Events 2016 Grand Challenges for Social Work Events

Social Innovation for America’s Renewal: Ideas, Evidence, Action

Date: September 14-16, 2016
Location: Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

Grand Challenges

National experts, advocates, and leading academics gathered to address pressing social issues facing the country and the next administration. This conference outlined proposals for the presidential and other campaigns in 2016 and the second presidential debate, which the university hosted on October 9, 2016.

The conference focused on evidence-based policy ideas for the 12 Grand Challenges—from ending mass incarceration and family violence to achieving economic equality—identified by the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare. Together, these challenges represent a bold and strategic agenda for social change. They focus on improving individual and family well-being, strengthening the social fabric, and helping to create a more just society.


Read the Grand Challenges policy briefs.
See the conference program.
For links to speeches and presentations at the conference, see the CSD News story “Conference takes on the nation’s ‘Grand Challenges.”. Or click on the links in the agenda below.
PowerPoints also are available. Please see the agenda below and click on the links.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) provided a video to welcome conference participants.
See conference photos.


Wednesday, September 14: Gathering of the grand challenges network workgroups

6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Dinner
Speaker: NASW President Darrell P. Wheeler

Thursday, September 15: Specifying policy recommendations for the grand challenges

8:00 to 8:30 a.m. Breakfast

8:30 to 9:00 a.m. “Reflections from the front lines: Ideas and evidence to policy,” Ray Boshara

9:00 to 12:00 p.m. Grand challenges network workgroup​ breakout sessions

12:00 to 1:30 p.m. Lunch, informal discussion

1:30 to 5:40 p.m. Discussion of policy recommendations from the 12 grand challenge network workgroups (To view a PowerPoint, please click on a Grand Challenge.)

Theme I: Individual and family well-being​

Ensure healthy development for all youth
Close the health gap
Stop family violence
Advance long and productive lives

Theme II: Stronger social fabric

Eradicate social isolation
End homelessness
Create social responses to a changing environment
Harness technology for social good

Theme III: Just s​ociety​

Promote smart decarceration
Reduce extreme economic inequality
Build financial capability for all
Achieve equal opportunity and justice

​​5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Conference dinner and speakers

• Welcome; Social policy focus in social work: Brown School Dean Mary McKay

• Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative: AASWSW President Richard Barth
• Keynote address on the potential of the GCSW: NASW CEO Angelo McClain

Friday, September 16: Ideas to action: Implementing policy recommendations

7:30 to 8:00 a.m. B​reakfast

8:00 to 8:45 a.m. Address on policy innovation for children and families, Mark Greenberg,
Acting Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

8:45 to 9:30 a.m. Policy progress and the grand challenges: Examples and discussion

Ensure healthy development for all youth
​ • Eradicate social isolation
Promote smart decarceration

Moderator: Eddie Uehara, University of Washington

​9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Policy strategies and direction for the grand challenges


• Sarah Dewees, First Nations Development Institute
​ • Sarah Gehlert, Washington University in St. Louis PowerPoint
• Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution PowerPoint
• Patricia White, New York Community Trust

Moderator: Marilyn Flynn, ​ University of Southern California

10:45 to 11:30 a.m. Integration and vision for the grand challenges policy recommendations


​ • Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Corporation for Enterprise Development
• Rowena Fong, University of Texas PowerPoint
• Laura Lein, University of Michigan
• Ron Manderscheid, National Association of County Behavioral Health​ and ​ Developmental Disability Directors PowerPoint

Moderator: Richard Barth, President, AASWSW ​

11:30 to 12:15 p.m. “Social innovation for America’s renewal ,” Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities PowerPoint

12:15 to 12:30 p.m. Wrap-up and next steps

12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Lunch, informal discussion, departures for airport

Postconference goals are to
• communicate GCSW policy recommendations widely, with a planned and systematic strategy;
• stimulate policy innovations at local, state, regional, and national levels;
• implement quality applied research on GCSW policy innovations; and
• embed positive social changes that reach millions of people in the United States.

Major institutional sponsors of the conference included the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare, Washington University in St. Louis, Brookings Institution, Society for Social Work and Research, Fund for Social Policy Education and Practice, and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

University schools of social work sponsors included the following:
Washington University in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work; University of Southern California, School of Social Work; University of Washington, School of Social Work; University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration; University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work; University of Maryland, School of Social Work; University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work; University of Michigan, School of Social Work; Boston University, School of Social Work; University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice; Boston College, School of Social Work.

​Organized by the Center for Social Development.​​​​​​