The Penn School of Social Policy & Practice proudly upholds Penn's commitment to engage locally and globally. Our faculty are thought leaders in social change, social policy and social justice and impart these important precepts to our diverse and devoted student community. Our graduates are true leaders of social change.

Research Centers

Click here to learn more about SP2 Research Centers.

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy
The Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP) seeks to define the efficient frontier of philanthropy, where nonprofit financing is linked to potential for impact. Our goal is to develop the information, tools, and metrics to enable philanthropists to make smart social investments. Our vision is one where philanthropists understand what impact they can reasonably expect for each incremental charitable dollar and where evidence and facts inform the allocation of charitable gifts. (www.impact.upenn.edu)

Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research
The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research, an interdisciplinary center integrating the work of Penn’s Schools of Social Policy & Practice, Law, and Medicine, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is guided by some of the nation’s leading experts in the field, whose mission is to provide critical reform to the child welfare system on behalf of victims of child abuse and neglect. The only university-based center of its kind, the Field Center’s faculty, staff and students collaborate on cutting edge policy, research and practice initiatives. (www.fieldcenteratpenn.org)

The Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence
The Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center serves as a vital resource for policy makers, agency directors, line staff, researchers, and educators as they search for ways to reduce domestic violence. The Center focuses on protecting the rights, safety, and well-being of victims of abuse and neglect in all of its many forms. Interdisciplinary collaboration across Penn's campus is a cornerstone of this unique Center.

Website: www.sp2.upenn.edu/ortner
Email: ortner@lists.upenn.edu)

The Out-of-School Time Resource Center (OSTRC)
The Out-of-School Time Resource Center promotes youth achievement through staff support and professional development. With a focus on out-of-school time (OST) programs, we:

Identify and coordinate resources. We produce a monthly newsletter and four resource directories, maintain a website and helpline, and host regular Peer Networking Meetings. In addition, we foster inter-program communication and integrate resources from other professions.

Conduct research and evaluation. We conduct literature reviews and empirical research to identify promising practices in professional development. We also use surveys, focus groups, interviews, and observations to measure professional development outcomes.

Recommend changes in practice and policy. Through brokering, consulting, research, and publications, we inform and advocate for high-quality professional development.


Program for Religion and Social Policy Research
The Program for Religion and Social Policy Practice is a research, education, and policy program dedicated to understanding the nexus between organized religion and the provision of social services. We aim to 1) contribute new knowledge on the scope, nature, and practice methods of religious-based social services, 2) develop methods for studying congregations and religious-based organizations, and 3) equip future cadre of social service practitioners and researchers in the integration of social work and religion. (www.sp2.upenn.edu/prspr)


Special Projects

Click here to learn more about SP2 Special Projects.

The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico

The goals of the project included: 1) identification of the nature, extent, and underlying causes of CSE and the CSEC occurring in the three countries of the North American Free Trade region--the U.S., Canada, and Mexico; 2) identification of those subgroups of children that are at the greatest risk of being sexually exploited; 3) identification of subgroups of adult perpetrators of sex crimes against children—including pimps, traffickers, and adult “customers” of children for sex; 4) identification of the extent to which organized criminal units are involved in the CSEC; 5) identification of the modes of operation and other methods used by organized criminal units to recruit children into sexually exploitive activities; 6) identification of local, state and national laws relating to CSE and the CSEC; 7) identification of international agreements, covenants and declarations pertaining to CSE and the CSEC; 8) identification of the strengths and weakness of the country’s current capacity for preventing CSE, or at least protecting children from its commercial manifestations; and, 9) with governmental and nongovernmental leaders, frame recommendations designed to strengthen the nation’s capacity to prevent and protect the nation’s and region’s children from sexual exploitation. (www.sp2.upenn.edu/~restes/CSEC.htm)

Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI)

The Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI) is an exciting new initiative at Penn Social Policy & Practice (SP2). The goal of the program - reduce recidivism within the Philadelphia prison system.

Currently more people are incarcerated in the United States than at any point in our history. Currently more than 2.3 million people are incarcerated; almost another 5 million are under the supervision of Parole or Probation. The percentage of women being incarcerated has grown over 700% in the last 10 years. These numbers while only the tip of the iceberg, represent the punitive and often times draconian approach in dealing with crime over the past three decades.

While funding for prisons has exponentially increased during this unprecedented period of mass incarceration, little of that spending has been allocated to funding programs deemed rehabilitative. Men and women are oftentimes released from prison with nothing more than a bus ticket and $40 dollars (this amount varies with each state); facing the same unresolved challenges that led to prison, but now having the stigma that comes with being an “Ex-con, Parolee etc”.

As a result, of the nearly 700,000 people released back into their communities each year, more than two-thirds  end up back in prison (recidivate) within 3 years; continuing the viscous cycle of mass incarceration which not only affects the perpetrator, but families, communities, taxpayers and most importantly, public safety.

The primary goal of the GRI at SP2 is to reduce recidivism within the Philadelphia communities.  Clinical and macro level social work student interns will work with the Department of Corrections to provide holistic assessments and develop comprehensive service plans, which include identifying and developing community resources to enable success reentry. The work will begin when individuals are three months to release and will continue in the community three months after to enable a greater continuum of care. The initiative is led by SP2 professor Joretha Bourjolly and SP2 doctoral student Kirk James.

We believe that issues of mass incarceration and subsequent recidivism represent a grave threat to social justice and equality in the United States. The GRI at SP2 is committed to fostering best practices and policy utilizing social work as the catalyst for change!

For more information please contact Kirk James at kirkjam@sp2.upenn.edu

Social Impact of the Arts ProjectIntelligence for Social Policy (ISP)

Intelligence for Social Policy (ISP) is an initiative funded by the Catherine T. and John D. MacArthur Foundation in 2009 through a three-year grant to University of Pennsylvania Professors Dennis Culhane, School of Social Policy and Practice, and John Fantuzzo, Graduate School of Education. The principal aim of ISP is to improve the quality of education, health and human service agencies’ policies and practices through the use of integrated data systems. Quality integrated data systems are designed to help executive leaders in municipal, county and state government evaluate and establish effective programs and services for the people they serve. (www.ispc.upenn.edu)

Latino Social Service & Policy Initiative

There are various components and rationales that go into defining the characteristics and composition of a new initiative.  As a progressive institution that thrives on being an innovator in both the fields of research and practical training the School of Social Policy & Practice (in conjunction with other programs and departments throughout the University at large) witness a need to serve and simultaneously be accountable to the changing landscape of Philadelphia’s growing Latin@ population, as well as that of the larger Delaware Valley Area. Seeing a gap in the number of social services and policy initiatives focusing on the experiences of Latin@s, the School of Social Policy & Practice will begin to train the next generation of leaders who will serve our Latin@ communities, while building critical partnerships between the Philadelphia community and the campus writ large.  

It is with these interests that The Latin@ Social Service & Policy Initiative consists of, but is not limited to two primary goals:

  1. The initiative aims to educate students in the respective fields of Social Work, Social Policy, and Non-Profit Leadership for leadership positions serving the Latin@ community.
  2. The initiative seeks to be responsive to and expresses the importance of doing work within the Latin@ community as well as being mindful of the multitude of social issues and concerns that adversely affect the community at large.


Penn Aging Concentration (PAC)

The PENN Aging Concentration (PAC), in partnership with a consortium of community agencies is offering a special opportunity to earn a Master in Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in services to older persons. The PAC program prepares students in the advanced year for clinical or macro social work careers and leadership in social work services at one of the premier MSW programs in the United States. PAC addresses the critical need in the US for well-trained and skilled geriatric social workers.  

Demographic trends, most notably the aging of the baby boom cohort, clearly show that demand for social workers knowledgeable about the issues and needs of older adults and skilled in the development and delivery of services, will increase dramatically over the next few years.

PAC provides a number of exciting opportunities including the following:

  • A specialized curriculum in “aging” leading to the Master of Social Work (MSW).
  • Advanced training from Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholars.
  • Internships working with older persons on a continuum from well to end of life.
  • Special high impact projects to develop leadership skills.
  • Rotational and integrative field seminars to bridge the Field Internship and course work.
  • Financial stipends in the advanced year of the MSW program.
  • Assistance with career planning.
  • Internships offer opportunities to both develop skills in working with individuals and families but also with systems and organizations that serve older persons.

The PAC Program is part of the Geriatric Social Work Initiative funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation.

Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP)

SIAP is a research center of the Penn School of Social Policy & Practice. Since 1994, it has undertaken a variety of policy research projects on the role that cultural institutions play in the metropolitan Philadelphia region and its neighborhoods. Our website provides access to the Project's working papers, a summary of its findings, and some of its current activities. (www.sp2.upenn.edu/SIAP)


Student Field Placement

Field Placement is an integral part of the curriculum at SP2.  The Field Department works with over 590 agencies across 5 states to provide optimal learning experiences for students. Areas of practice include both clinical and macro opportunities for students to gain practical skills working in a wide variety of practice settings.  Generally, students complete two field placements in different agencies in their foundation and advanced year.

Full-time students are in field placement 3 days per week both years, for 30 weeks. Part-time students are in field 16 hours/week for 39 weeks the second year, and 36 weeks the third year.