Social Actions Initiative Awards

Social Actions Initiative Award

Flyer for Social Actions Initiative Award 2018

2018  Deadlines for Submission: April 15th and October 1st

Apply Now

Email SAC chair with any brief questions: Kristy Kelly ( with “Social Actions Initiative Awards” as part of the subject line.

History and Overview

In 2016, SWS Council approved SAC’s proposal to support more direct social action of SWS members.  The Social Actions Initiative Awards is SAC’s efforts to directly support and encourage the social activism of SWS members.  Awards are given out twice per year on a competitive basis until funds are fully dispersed.  The social actions represented by this initiative are central to advancing the mission of SWS.

Nature of the Award

IMPORTANT: Please note that expenses will be reimbursed only when itemized receipts have been submitted to the SWS office. Awards will not be paid in advance, as SWS must remain in compliance with its 501(c) (6) status.

SWS recognizes that action “for women” does not mean that the work was done “with women” or even “by women.” Substantial need exists for social action working with working with men, boys, LGBTQ communities and other groups where change will benefit women and can be understood as feminist action. Therefore, SWS recognizes work done in this spirit regardless of applicant’s gender identity.

Current SWS members can apply for social action funds in the amount of $500 to $1000 to support efforts to undertake social action broadly defined (e.g., advocacy, public education, organizing, movement-building).  Funds can be used, for instance, to sponsor a teach-in on reproductive justice or to collaborate with community projects (we discourage campus speaker events without a clear community or social action component). Be creative!

SAC’s Social Actions Initiative Awards is given out twice per year on a competitive basis.  Information about the awardee and related actions will appear in Network News and the SWS website.

Eligibility and Criteria for Selection
Applicants must be current members of SWS.

Preference will be given to those actions that involve collaboration with students, directly-affected persons, area advocates and activists and to applications from members who work in environments where funds and other support for such effort are extremely limited or non-existent; where heavy workload limits the time to identify and complete more extensive applications; and in parts of the United States where feminist social action is particularly needed.

Proposed actions must advance the mission of SWS and be in compliance with the IRS regulations connected to the non-profit status of SWS. Please click the IRS constraints on activity and spending document to confirm compliance.

Review process

An evaluation committee of SAC members will review applications two times per calendar year. Please note that SAC’s goal is to inform applicants of their proposal status within two weeks past deadline.

Submission Procedure

Applicants are required to submit their proposals by completing a Google Form.  Click here to submit applications.

The application requests the following information about the proposed social action.

Follow-Up and Documentation

Upon completing the social action, applicants will be required to submit the following information within 30 days of completed action:

  • All expense receipts associated with proposed action to the SWS office.
  • One paragraph summary of the action, including links to any related materials (e.g., photos, media coverage); this summary will be shared publicly on the SWS website or in Network News;
  • A 1-2 page report including a brief description of the action or activity, the outcome/result of the action, the lessons learned (“if I had to undertake this action again, here is what I would do differently…” i.e., not schedule my reproductive rights event at my Catholic college on Ash Wednesday), and any other related materials (e.g., photos, media coverage).

Previous Award Winners

FALL 2017

Maternal and Infant Mortality Screening Event

Evonnia Woods, Graduate Student, University of Missouri. This project will support Reproaction to organize a series of events across Missouri to raise awareness about maternal and infant mortality. Eight events will be organized for public screenings of the documentary ‘The Naked Truth: Death by Delivery’ followed by panel discussions with healthcare experts. The experts include doctors, nurses, direct-entry midwives, a professor, doulas, a policy director, and activists/organizers who will speak about infant and maternal mortality form their perspectives. Scheduled events include two at universities or with a focus on student recruitment, and the rest in or adjacent to predominantly Black communities. The purpose of the events is to raise awareness on racial disparities between white women and women of color in general, but Black women specifically. Maternal mortality rates in Missouri are on par with the national average which places Black women as 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues, regardless of wealth and education. Attendees will be called to action; which has been to sign petitions to the governor and/or to participate in a subsequent direct-action protest.

Ella Baker Day 2018

Beth Williford, Faculty, Manhattanville College. This project supports the Sociology and Anthropology department at Manhattanville College to organize a public event in 2018 celebrating the life and work of Ella Baker. The event is comprised of two portions: the day will feature students presenting research and policy posters to the campus community, and the evening will culminate in a keynote speaker or panel discussion of faculty and community experts engaged in social justice and action to counter oppressive discourse. The theme for Ella Baker Day 2018 will be “Arts and Activism,” and will focus upon the important ways that art can communicate the pain of oppression as well as resistance and collective action.

Greene School Library Project

Susan Lee, Faculty, Boston University. This project will support the Greene Elementary School library in Fall River, Massachusetts, in resuming library services for its students by supporting Greene Street staff in purchasing books that show gender and racial balance and incorporate some of the foreign languages spoken in community members, especially Spanish and Portuguese. Green Street Elementary is located in a low-income neighborhood notable for its high proportion of female-headed households and households that pay more than 30 percent of their income in housing costs. The Greene School library has been out of operation for several years due to budget cutbacks that eliminated the position of librarian. This project builds on the work of community volunteers from St. Luke’s Church and the local Niagara Neighborhood Association who have been working to organize a check-out system, and staff the library several days a week to allow the library to open.

Association of Gender Professionals Collaborative Platform Development

Karine Lepillez, independent SWS member, is working with other SWS members to found an organization for promoting the development of intersectional gender expertise for professional practice. Key to the group’s ability to increase collaboration between practitioners, academics, and activists dedicated to feminist action, they develop a user-friendly online platform that is disability accessible, easy to use in developing countries, and culturally respectful. This project will support the initial development of the platform by engaging a web designer to ensure the platform is structured from the start to be inclusive and accessible.


Dubuque LGBTQ Task Force Development

Clare Forstie, Graduate Student, University of Wisconsin-Platteville & Northwestern University in collaboration with community member and activist Indigo Channing, and a group of LGBTQ community members working with local nonprofits to assess and respond to LGBTQ community needs. This project will support the development of an intersectional LGBTQ task force in organizing a half-day strategic planning retreat with training support from nonprofit management experts. The aim with this initiative is to develop the foundation for a well-structured, flexible, sustainable LGBTQ task force that assesses and responds to community needs in an ongoing way.

Cooperative Learning Workshop to Learn, Deeply Reflect, and Advocate for Graduate Student Mothers

A.S. CohenMiller, Faculty, Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan in collaboration with Kelly Ward and graduate students at the Indiana University at Bloomington. This project will provide a forum for graduate student mothers to come together with international specialists studying and working with mothers in academia. The goal is to provide support to graduate student mothers in developing support as they move through the academic pipeline.

Website for the Women’s Living Islam and Hinduism Project (WLIHP)

Anjana Narayan, Faculty, California State Polytechnic University Pomona in collaboration with WLIHP, a network of sociologists, philosophers, psychologists and scholars of comparative literature and women’s studies working in India, Pakistan and the United States. This project will support the development of a website for outreach and dissemination of resources generated by the network such as video archives of talks, working papers, call for participation in conferences, links to social media, and elaboration of network research and educational resources.

Women of Color in STEM Forum

Nancy Campos, Graduate Student, University of Buffalo in collaboration with graduate students at SUNY New Paltz. This collaboration will support a first forum that addresses some of the issues women of color in STEM fields face at predominantly White institutions and in the workplace. The aim is to promote the development of a community of support for women of color in STEM fields for students that will carry on later.

Campus and Community Screening of “Beauty Bites Beast” and Self-Defense Course

Margaret McGladrey, Graduate Student, University of Kentucky in collaboration with the SWS of the Bluegrass chapter; the Kentucky University of Kentucky Police Department; University of Kentucky Violence Intervention Program; the Center for Research on Violence Against Women, a community-based Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center; Greenhouse17 (an innovative local domestic violence shelter) programs; and The Girl Project, a grassroots arts-activism initiative for gender equity that serves high-school aged girls. This project will help support the development of promotional materials a film screening of “Beauty Bites Beast,” and the facilitation of a self-defense course for university and high school students directly affected by intimate partner and sexual violence in Central Kentucky.

Fall 2016

Campus Teach-In about Women Refugees

Yasemin Besen-Cassino, Associate Professor of Sociology, Montclair State University. This project aims to bring together both activist scholars and local activists working on and with refuge women for a campus teach-in. The purpose of this event is to educate the campus and local community and discuss appropriate ways in which to effectively engage this issue.

Chinese Women’s Rights Movements

Wenjie Liao, Assistant Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, North Carolina State University.  Renowned Chinese feminist scholar-activist Lu Pin will be invited to NCSU to discuss the state of the Chinese women’s rights movements to the campus community.  The purpose of this project is for a US audience to learn about the political situation in China, showcase Lu’s photo collection of Chinese feminist movements, and engage in dialogue with a prominent activist about a non-US based social movement.

Intersectional Feminism & UMass Boston’s 2017 Social Theory Forum

Sarah Mayorga-Gallo, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Boston.  The purpose of this project is to host a prominent feminist scholar-activist at the 2017 Social Theory Forum conference at UMass-Boston. This speaker will have an opportunity to meet with undergraduate students and discuss intersectionality-based activism and social actions.

Healing our Communities From the Inside-Out: Restorative Justice Behind Bars

Heather Mooney, Graduate Student of Sociology, Wayne State University in collaboration with John R. Espie – Prisoner 278182 – Michigan Department of Corrections.  The project supports a presentation of a Restorative Justice (RJ) Summit to be held in a Michigan prison in cooperation with the Michigan Theory Group (which includes incarcerated men, professors, and graduate students across Michigan state), the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and select allies within the state government.


All-Gender Restrooms in Humboldt County, California

Meredith Williams, Assistant Professor of Sociology, in collaboration with HSU students May Fournier, Lupe Madrid, Corina Martinez, Liza Olmedo and Tiffany Proa – Humboldt State University

This project aims to create awareness about, and accessibility for, transgender and gender non-conforming folks for using the restroom in an isolated, rural community.

Sociologists for Immigrants’ Justice 

Anna Smedley-López – Assistant Professor in Residence of Sociology – UNLV. In collaboration with UNLV’s Service Learning Initiative for Community Engagement in Sociology (SLICES), UNLV Social Sciences Libraries, and Immigrants’ Justice Initiative (community partner), this social action involves a teach-in about the politics of U.S. asylum and a workshop for asylum seekers.

UASK Florida State University

Kelly Grove – Sociology PhD student and Sexual Health Counselor for the Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness – Florida State University. UASK (University. Assault. Services. Knowledge.) Florida State University will be a website and downloadable app for iPhone and Android smartphones that provides users with community-specific sexual assault, domestic violence, and intimate partner violence resources in one place.