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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 Master of Social Work students, enabling awardees to create unique field placements where the student will have the opportunity to develop and implement an innovative idea and/or program with potential to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

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 rising final-year UNC School of Social Work students. 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. 15
Application opens

Feb. 26
Application deadline for students in the Full-Time MSW and 3-Year MSW programs
Announcement of awards for these applicants — March 5

March 16
Application deadline for students in the 20-Month Advanced Standing MSW programs
Announcement of awards for these applicants — Week of March 22-26

June 11
Application deadline for students in the 12-Month MSW Program
Announcement of awards for these applicants — Week of June 14-18

Apply for This Award


Examples of Field Placement Opportunities and Projects

Consultation is available for interested applicants who may wish to review their idea with the SIE Lab prior to submitting their application. 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 cash award in the amount of $10,000, recipients of the Vera Tayeh Innovations and Impact Award will have access to 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, priority registration for courses such as Design Thinking for the Public Good [HBEH 748], proseminars, marketing assistance, and opportunities to present publicly about their projects to gain additional support, recognition, partners, and potentially 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