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Vera Tayeh Innovations and Impact Award

The Vera Tayeh Innovations and Impact Award provides $10,000 grants to selected specialization-year students in any of the five Master of Social Work programs at UNC-Chapel Hill. The award enables students to develop a unique field placement around an innovative idea and/or program with the potential to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Awardees can innovate within an existing field placement, within a lapsed placement they re-establish, or within an entirely new placement they create.

Awardees will design, implement, and evaluate their innovative ideas in collaboration with the School of Social Work’s Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab. Applicants are encouraged to think big, take risks, and be bold in challenging both oneself and the status quo.



Applicants must be currently enrolled UNC School of Social Work students in the spring semester before their specialization year. Although applicants for the 12-Month Advanced Standing MSW Program are not yet enrolled at the School, they are also eligible to apply, with any award contingent on their enrollment. U.S. citizenship is not a requirement for Tayeh Award applicants.

A student selected for the Vera Tayeh Award may also participate in the UNC-PrimeCare4Youth program, but only as a waiver student and not a recipient of the PrimeCare stipend.

The award selection committee will look for evidence of perseverance, maturity, and expansive and creative thinking in applicants and their proposed projects. Those not afraid to take risks, experiment with and explore new ideas, and/or expand considerably upon ideas already being investigated are especially encouraged to apply. A current resume and professional references are required.

The SIE Lab hosted an online information session for the Tayeh Award in January 2021. If you were unable to participate, you can view a video recording of the Tayeh Award information session.

Timeline and Deadlines

Jan. 14, 2022

  • Application is available online
  • Tayeh Award Q&A Session for students in the 2-Year MSW and 3-Year MSW programs (12-1 p.m.)
    View the recorded session here.

Feb. 25, 2022

  • Application deadline for students in the 2-Year MSW and 3-Year MSW programs
    Announcement of awards for these applicants — Week of March 7-11, 2022

March 15, 2022

  • Application deadline for students in the 20-Month Advanced Standing MSW program
    Announcement of awards for these applicants — Week of March 21-25, 2022

May 2, 2022

June 10, 2022

  • Application deadline for students in the 12-Month Advanced Standing MSW program
    Announcement of awards for these applicants — Week of June 13-17, 2022

Examples of Field Placement Opportunities and Projects

Consultation is available for interested applicants who want to review their idea with the SIE Lab prior to submitting their application. These are some relevant project elements: launching something totally new; growing something recently established; moving something forward; adding a new component to something already in existence.

In addition, this list of innovative and impactful field projects is available to provide insight regarding types of projects that would be considered strong contenders for such an award.

Additional Award Resources

In addition to receiving a $10,000 cash award, recipients of the Vera Tayeh Innovations and Impact Award will have access to the following benefits based on the nature of their project: mentoring, peer support, subject matter experts, evaluation and impact expertise, design and business planning coaching, access to the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab and other members of the Innovate Carolina network, registration for courses such as Design Thinking for the Public Good [HBEH 748], professional development seminars, marketing assistance, and opportunities to present publicly about their projects to gain additional support, recognition, partners, and potential funding.

About Vera Tayeh

The Vera Tayeh Innovations and Impact Award is supported by a generous gift from UNC School of Social Work alumna Vera Tayeh (MSW ‘87). Tayeh was born in Beirut, Lebanon, where she lived through a civil war, giving her perspective in navigating extremely difficult life-and-death circumstances.

“I was always a person looking for justice and wanted to help others. I spoke up without hesitation when I saw injustice. I was 11 years old when I was against spanking students at my school and organized a strike and were able to stop spanking,” Tayeh said. “During my teen years, I was involved in organizing recreational and educational activities for young children in our community. I loved debating social issues in group settings and advocated to change things for the better.”

Tayeh added, “Getting a BSW in Lebanon was an easy choice. After that, I came to North Carolina [in 1983] with no English language; I studied English on my own.” She continued her education at UNC School of Social Work and has been employed in child welfare with Wake County Human Services for more than 20 years.

Tayeh now serves as a member of the UNC School of Social Work Board of Advisors.



Tanya Jisa, SIE Lab Community Education Coordinator, 919-962-6480