Serving The Profession

The NASW Foundation is committed to enriching the social work profession, honoring its history, and empowering social workers to be leaders in social policy and practice. We remember NASW’s rich history by supporting and promoting recognition and awards programs that pay homage to the longtime social workers in our profession who serve as our role models. We invest in the future of our profession by offering scholarship and fellowship programs for both young trailblazers, and older professionals striving to make their mark. Highlights of our efforts to serve the profession are outlined below.

NASW Social Work Pioneers®

The Foundation is home to, and supports, the the NASW Social Work Pioneers® Program, which identifies and honors social workers who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the profession. The program recognizes individuals whose unique dedication, commitment and determination have improved social and human conditions. They are true role models for future generations of social workers. Approximately 800 individuals have achieved the status of pioneer.

The NASW Legacy Project

The Foundation launched The NASW Legacy Project in 2001 and collaborates with the NASW Social Work Pioneers® to collect, preserve and archive documents, photographs, and other artifacts that illuminate the rich history of NASW and the social work profession. The NASW Legacy Project, and other NASW Social Work Pioneers® projects, bring a historical perspective to current issues and challenges, along with insight to emerging social problems.

Knee/Wittman Health and Mental Health Achievement Awards

The Foundation presents the Knee/Wittman Health and Mental Health Outstanding Achievement Award to an individual or group that has made a significant impact on national mental health public policy, professional standards, or program models. The Knee/Wittman Health and Mental Health Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a professional social worker who has made exemplary contributions in health and mental health practice. The program was established to recognize those who represent the values, ethics, and approaches exemplified by dedicated social work pioneers Ruth Knee and Milton Wittman, who guided the development of social policy and standards.

International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award

The Foundation presents the International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award to an individual, group, or organization that has significantly advanced the public image of professional social work. This monetary prize is made possible from an endowment fund established by a generous contribution in 1966 from distinguished social worker Rhoda G. Sarnat, LCSW and Bernard Sarnat, MD.

NASW Foundation Scholarships and Fellowships

The Foundation awards scholarships and fellowships to financially support students in a variety of social work specialties, including:
  • The Jane B. Aron Doctoral Fellowship on Healthcare Policy, which provides partial support to social work doctoral candidates engaged in dissertation research in healthcare policy and practice. The fellowship program was established in 1987 as a tribute to Jane Aron, who was a leader in health care policy and education.
  • The Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship on Welfare Policy, which offers partial support to social work doctoral candidates engaged in dissertation research in welfare policy and practice. The fellowship program was established in 1987 as a tribute to Eileen Blackey, who was a pioneer in the planning and use of staff development programs in public welfare agencies and the U.S. Veterans Administration.
  • The Consuelo G. Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarships are awarded to master’s degree candidates in social work who have demonstrated a commitment to working with, or who have a special affinity with, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations, or in public and voluntary nonprofit agency settings. The Gosnell Scholarship was established through a bequest of Consuelo Gosnell, a social work practitioner who was a champion of civil and human rights and worked diligently to ameliorate conditions for critically under-served American Indians and Latinos in the Southwest.
  • The Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial MSW Scholarship is awarded to master’s degree candidates in social work who demonstrate an interest in, or have experience with, health/mental health practice and have a commitment to working in African American communities. The scholarship is a memorial to social worker Verne LaMarr Lyons, who committed his life to increasing awareness of pernicious health concerns affecting African American such as insufficient prenatal care, infant mortality, AIDS, cirrhosis, and general life expectancy.
  • The Ruth Fizdale Program underwrites NASW Chapter research projects that link practice and policy issues with relevant social issues. Created in 1987 by Dr. Helen Rehr and other friends of Ruth Fizdale to honor her contributions to social work, the fund underwrites studies related to people with social needs, and to facilitate effective service delivery. The program provides opportunities for NASW Chapters to conduct pilot research projects targeted to a specific emerging issue. These NASW Chapter pilot projects then may serve as cornerstones for developing more comprehensive research projects.

Please visit NASW Foundation Scholarship, Fellowship and  Recognition Award sections for in-depth information about these programs and their namesakes.

Former NASW President Gary Bailey Presents Dr. James MacKay With Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award June 2018

Former NASW Board President and Foundation Board Member Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW, presents New Hampshire State Representative James McKay, PhD, MSW, with a Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award June on 22, 2018.

Knee/Wittman Outstanding Achievement Award Winner Dr. Virna Little Speaks At Awards Ceremony In 2018

Virna Little, PsyD, LCSW-r, MBA, CCM, SAP, accepts the Knee/Wittman Oustanding Achievement Award at A Night At The Awards - A Night To Remember, at the NASW National Conference in Washington, D.C. on June 22, 2018. 

Social Workers Across Nations®

NASW Social Work Talks Podcast Logo

In Episode 5, NASW Social Work Talks Podcast features the Director of the NASW Foundation, Bob Arnold.   Tune in for a discussion about the Foundation's many educational, research, and  charitable  initiatives.