This past June BSW students and fauclty received $150 awards and plaques as national winners in teh State pOlicy Plus IV Contest
sponsored by Influencing State Policy, a national group of faculty and social work practitioners dedicated to increasing the
influence of social workers at the state level where more social welfare policy is being made in these days of devolution.
The Contest was co-sponsored by teh University of texas at Austin School of Social Work, the Association of Baccalaureate
Program Directors, the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Houston
School of Social work. Among the many outstanding entries that were submitted, the follwoing winners were recognized at the
Policy Conference in Charleston, South Caroline in June.
Ms. Marti Bier, a BSW student at the University of texas
at Austin, worked for passage of a bill in the TExas State Legislature that will prohibit discrimination of students int ehpublic
schools based on ethnicity, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and antional origin.
Ms. Bier has been a long-time volunteer with the Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby of Texas )LGRL), and she focused her efforts on
coordinating the lobbying efforts of gay youth with the LGRL around passage of the bill. Her grassroots organizing efforts
included writing an article about the bill for the LGRL newsletter, organizing a retreat for youth from throughout texas to
develop a coalition and learn lobbying strategies, organizing youth to testigy at a bill filing press conference, mobilizing
LGRL supporters in teh district of the Chair of the Committee where the bill as assigned to voice their support to their Representative,
and talking with staff of the Chair and other key legislators. Not only will this bill have a positive impace on youth throughout
the state by providing additonal protection, through the advocacy process Ms. Bier helped yough realize how they may make
a difference in their government. Ms. Bier learned valuablelobbying skills hersellf, but she states, "Far surpassing
other lessons, though, I have had the experiences of talking with legislators and staff administrators that have diminished
my fear and intimidation that I felt about being involved in the legislative process."
The co-winner of theBSW
award was the entire Class at Western Connecticut State University for twelve projects they completed over nine months to
increase awareness about hate crimes and build support for Connecticut's stricter penalties for crimes committed in teh name
of bigotry or bias. Those projects included presenting "an educational program to promote interracial and intercultural
diversity and acceptance" for teens at five different centers, collecting educational materials for distribution, holding
an open forum at the University, developoing a poster exhibit, participating in a high school's
Alternatives to Violence
Week," and other such outreach activities. They state, "In the process of planning and implementing our project
we realized how to influence policy in non-legislative ways through awareness and education."
Dr. Ruth Charles,
faculty member at Winona State University, submitted the winning faculty assignment. In order to encourage more social workers
to get to know their legislators and the political process and to actually consider running for public office, she required
students to volunteer for 10 hours during the fall of 2000 in a state political campaign. Candidates came to class to recruit
students by discussing their positions on issues of interest, and students were required to follow the election reporting
int eh newspaper. In their volunteer work, students were involved ina variety of grassroots political organizing efforts
including doing literature drops, staffing offices and thephones, and accompanying candidates going door-to-door. Students
submitted a log of hours, description of activities, and a short analysis of their experiences. Participation seemed to result
in more students voting in the election, and most students reported that they now would consider running for political office.
One said, "I now see how important it is to have people in office that really care about the needs of society and are
willing to work hard to meet those needs...We need politicians who can fight for all people. To answer the question, there
is a slight possibility that I would consider running for office.
This year the Contest has been renames - the nnual
Influencing State Policy Contest and the deadline for entries is April 22, 2002. BSW entries from students, faculty,a nd
field instructors may be sent to Kathy Byers, Indiana University, School of Social Work, 1127 Atwater, Bloomington, IN 47405.
Complete information about the Contest as well as other resoruces provided by Influencing State Policy is available at the