About Us

A key question in social work policy practice is “How can we improve education for advocacy knowledge and skills?”

We believe our new program named SPEAK (Social Policy Education, Advocacy, and Knowledge) is a possible answer. 

With generous funding from Simmons Sisters Fund, SPEAK’s mission is to increase the participation of social workers and their allies in the political process in order to achieve social justice outcomes.



Learn More

Welcome Video

What is Speak?

Pixabay Letters

Keep in Touch

Be among the first to learn about the exciting programs and resources we develop!

SPEAK Computer

We need YOU!

Before we can start doing great things, we need to do some assessment of current levels of student activity and interest. YOU are the only source of knowledge about your current engagement in the social policy process.

SPEAK Student

Social Work Students – Stipends Available!

Join us as a Paid Research Assistant or Field Placement Intern

What We Do

SPEAK uses the Civic Engagement Model (CEM) developed by Verba, Schlozman, and Brady (1995). This model shows how political engagement and participation depend on:

  • Resources (time, money, skills);
  • Psychological Engagement (political interest, political information, sense of political efficacy, partisanship, and family influences); and
  • Recruitment Networks (connections to people already involved).

Resources such as time, money, and skills are vital for allowing political engagement.  First, we can try to impact time and money through trainings and internships.  We can also help link time management and values clarification exercises to “creating” more time for the things we deem important.  Through trainings and engagement activities, we can develop political participation skills at the individual level. This, in turn, leads to a stronger base for political engagement in the community of social workers and allies for social justice efforts. 

We can also increase the level of psychological engagement by making vital information (particularly regarding how to be active in policy-making) more available and conducting training to increase the sense of efficacy in policy-related interventions. Interest in and knowledge about political issues alone are not enough to increase participation:  people must also feel their activities can be successful.  Working with others helps increase information, skills, commitment, and efficacy, and will be a large part of SPEAK’s work.

Finally, because of the importance of the levels of recruitment networks in increasing political participation, SPEAK will develop links to current advocacy organizations and elected officials’ offices.  Professional groups such as Voting is Social Work, Influencing Social Policy, ACOSA, The Macro Social Work Group within CSWE, and others.



Visit our YouTube Page to Learn More

SPEAK Contacts

Richard Hoefer, PhD
Professor and Director

Jessica Leech
SPEAK Coordinator

Arielle Beisel
Communications Specialist

Keep in Touch