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School celebrates record year of faculty research funding and annual gifts

UNC School of Social Work is celebrating a record-breaking funding year for faculty research and for surpassing an annual goal in overall fundraising efforts.

Fiscal year 2020-21 was a particularly busy one for School faculty who submitted a historic 82 funding proposals, totaling more than $60.5 million in requested grants from state, national and international public and private agencies. Thus far, 43 of these proposals have been successfully awarded, amounting to nearly $17 million in new research dollars for the School, including from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Making Cents International, the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission, and the N.C. Division of Social Services, just to name a few.

“Relative to past fiscal years, this is a record-breaking amount of funding success,” praised Dean Gary Bowen of the faculty’s noteworthy accomplishments. “This is clearly exceptional work and productivity, especially in the context of working from home and being physically disconnected from one another and from our research infrastructure since March 2020.”

Moreover, as of the end of June, the School had successfully exceeded its annual fundraising goal by $700,000, bringing in $3 million over the last year, including $850,000 in private grants and an estimated $2.8 million in gifts and pledges. In addition, the School received a $1.6 million gift from philanthropists Carl and Susan Baumann to create a scholarship to support social work students pursuing careers in community, management, and policy practice, a concentration that prepares graduates for practice at community, organizational, and societal levels.

The gifts alone bring the School one step closer to its $23 million goal in the Campaign for Carolina, which ends December 2022. Thus far, the School raised nearly $16 million, or about 69% of its goal.

Bowen praised the efforts of the School’s development team: Mary Beth Hernandez, associate dean for advancement; Christina Hill-Coillot, deputy director of development and alumni engagement; and Linda Rhodes, administrative support specialist, in securing the record funding.

“They worked tirelessly and had to quickly adapt to the ‘new normal’ to keep our fundraising on track during uncertain economic times,” Bowen said. “The impact of their great work will benefit the school for many years to come.”

In addition to securing additional gifts through the School’s ongoing fundraising campaign, School leaders also expect faculty to receive approval for other research grants in the coming months. At least 35 grant requests are still pending, totaling nearly $44 million in research dollars.

Overall, such funding achievements show the School’s commitment to increasing its research and engagement, a goal prioritized in its most recent three-year Strategic Plan.

“I am confident that we will continue to build upon our successes,” Bowen added.