The Undergraduate Social Action Award

Deadline for Submission: November 1, 2018

Click HERE to submit applications [through Google Forms]

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

History and Overview

The Undergraduate Social Action Award is given annually to recognize a student or team of students making a substantial contribution to improving the lives of women in society through activism. SWS initiated this award in 2003. The work honored by this award is central to the SWS goal to foster activism for women.

Nature of the Award

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 gender identity.

The Award Reward

The Undergraduate Social Action Award includes roundtrip travel (up to $500) to attend the SWS Winter Meeting.  In addition, awardees will have the Winter Meeting registration fee waived and may submit travel expenses to receive up to an additional $300.00 each to defray costs of travel and lodging.  An award certificate also accompanies the award.  The awardee(s) will be featured in the Winter Meeting Program, will receive a one-year SWS membership, and a select set of publications by SWS members.  The SWS Social Action Committee may select up to three awardees each year.

Eligibility and Criteria for Selection

A candidate for the Undergraduate Social Action Award must be nominated by an SWS member.  The work for which the candidate is nominated must have been undertaken during the undergraduate career.  Nominations are acceptable for candidates up to one-year after they complete their BA.  The candidate is not required to be a member at the time of nomination.  A recipient may be honored for a collection of ongoing activism for women or for a substantial single action that has affected positively the lives of women.

At least one member of a social action team must attend the Winter meeting to retain award eligibility.  The awardee will also be asked to prepare and share a short presentation about the activism recognized by the award.

Nomination and Application Procedures

At a minimum, an SWS member must nominate a candidate for the award with a letter written to the awards committee.   Beyond the nomination letter, a winning application packet tends to have these elements: an overview document (e.g. curriculum vitae or resume, biography) and a 3-5 page essay written by the activist describing the activist contributions and their impact (see below).  Nominees may also include testimonials from those benefiting from or witnessing the activism and support documents such as newspaper clippings or an event program.
Guidelines for Essay
1) Describe the organization(s) and/or project(s) structure, goals and funding
2) Identify challenges in action work and any changes made to address challenges
3) Discusses connections between the action work and educational experience and knowledge
4) Report contribution to women’s lives and/or feminist social change
5) Reflect on experiences
Applicants are encouraged to prepare some or all of the nomination in the form of an “electronic portfolio” (ideally in ONE pdf file) or direct the committee to the appropriate URL where materials can be found.


Committee Process

All materials must be submitted electronically by November 1, 2018 via the Google Form.

The Chair will communicate the selection process outcome to all nominees.  Award decisions will be made in December allowing recipients several weeks to make plans for travel to the Winter Meeting.  Award information will be available ongoing on the SWS website and announced in the Fall Network News.

The Award Presentation

The Undergraduate Social Action Award is presented annually by the Chair of the Awards Committee at the SWS Winter Meeting. The Awards Committee will share information about the award recipient with the full membership by preparing a short feature article for the Spring Network News.

Past Recipients

2017 Recipients

Rachel Litchman, University of Wisconsin-Madison

For her work with The Voices and Faces Project: The Stories We Tell Workshop on the topic of childhood trauma and sexual violence.

Joseline Tlacomulco, University of Connecticut

For her work as activist and community organizer for Connecticut students for Dream, a statewide organization led by undocumented youth to advocate for undocumented students and their families.

2016 Recipients

#Irate8 (Brittany Bibb, Ashley Nkadi, & Alissa Snoddy), University of Cincinnati

For their social media activism work as part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and for making a critical difference for students of color at the University of Cincinnati.

Mikka Mills, St. Ambrose University

For being an inclusive feminist leader on her campus and supporting women in the larger community, which includes raising funds for the local domestic violence shelter.

Itzel Padron Zuniga, Iowa State University

In recognition of her solidarity activism with survivors of sexual assault on her college campus at Iowa State University.

2015 Recipients

Chasity Thompson, Georgia Southern University

In recognition of her commitment to students of color, including her work with the University’s Multicultural Student Center, where, among other duties, she is a Minority Advisement Program (MAP) mentor to new college students, and a Women of Worth member.

Caroline Burkholder, Florida State University

In recognition of her commitment to women and politics on and off campus, including the development of youth programming and curriculum, gender, and American politics as part of the local Oasis Center for Women and Girls.

2014 Recipients

Colleen Fugate, Rice University

For her wide variety of activism, on efforts such as transnational migration, reproductive health, and conservation.

Sarah Rose Webber, Southern Utah University

For founding her university’s first feminist club and her commitment to anti-domestic violence work.

Christopher Guido, Florida Gulf Coast University

He founded the campus’ first reproductive rights group in conjunction with the local Planned Parenthood.


2013 Recipients

Marna Clowney-Robinson

For her work in developing the Eating Disorders Recovery and Support Network  and a website for women struggling with eating disorders.

Emily Mumford

For creating an alternative spring break (ABS) service-learning option that sought to advance feminist action by making visible the continued deep-rooted social problems of racism, particularly in the Deep South.

Danielle M. Story, Morehead State University

For her work to revitalize the defunct gender equality student group on her campus.


2012 Recipients

Stephanie Bonvissuto: in recognition of her activist career, involvement with the LOFT: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, and her work as student coordinator of the UMass-Boston Queer Student Center

Alex Dao: for her work revitalizing the UC Davis Queer Student Union and her involvement in the Occupy social movement

Izzy Pellegrine: for her work with the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, a non-profit organization founded to create tangible change and make schools safer for Mississippi’s queer youth.


2011 Recipients

Jess Acosta, Colby College, Waterville, Maine

LGBTQI campus and regional leadership

Stephanie Elwood, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Community Gardening Projects

Abigail Lemay, Stetson University, Deland, Florida

AAUW & ACLU campus and national leadership