program for

Religion & Social Policy Research

The Program for Religion and Social Policy Research (PRSPR) is a research, education, and policy program dedicated to understanding the nexus between organized religion and the provision of social services. Acknowledging the vast literature on the failing of organized religion to support many marginalized groups and its role in local and international conflicts, PRSPR focuses on the positive side of organized religion. We are a group of scholars interested in the ways organized religion supports quality of life, assist people in need, assist in times of crisis, and promotes the well-being of minorities.

PRSPR aims to:

  • Contribute to new knowledge on the scope, nature, and practice methods of religious-based social services;
  • Develop methods for studying congregations and religious-based organizations;
  • Equip future social service practitioners and researchers in the integration of social work and religion;
  • Enhance and support the education of students interested in religion and well-being; and
  • Research and produce cutting-edge knowledge regarding the role of religion in modern-day society.
history

History

1995

Dr. Ram A. Cnaan secures funding to take the first-ever census of religious congregations in Philadelphia. The census is the most comprehensive study ever to take inventory of social service programs available through local congregations.

1997

The Program for the study of Organized Religion and Social Work was developed by Dr. Cnaan at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Work (now SP2; School of Social Policy & Practice). Research on the topic of religion and social work was scarce and Dr. Cnaan recognized a great need for quality research, especially in light of the social and political climate.ext here

1999

The book, “The Newer Deal” written by Dr. Ram Cnaan, with Dr. Robert Wineburg, and Stephanie Boddie is published by Columbia University Press on the topic of the partnership of social work and religion.

A new class on religion and social work is developed and taught at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Work. “Practicing and Managing Social Work in Religious Contexts” brings to light the neglected, yet important issue of the role of religion in social work practice, and helps bridge the gap.

2000

The program hosts a conference for congregational leaders in Philadelphia. “Empowering to Build Healthy Congregations- Growth and Vision Conference” helped equip congregations to secure funding so they could continue doing what they are good at- meeting the needs of the community.

2002

The book, “The Invisible Caring Hand,” written by Dr. Ram Cnaan, with Stephanie Boddie, Femida Handy, Robert Schneider, and Gaynor Yancey is published by New York University Press. This book sheds light on the welfare role congregations provide in six large cities and one small town.

The Program wins a grant from the Compassion Capital Fund to evaluate the impact of a faith-based program for at-risk youth. This faith and community based demonstration project will be carried out by the North Philadelphia Cluster of United Methodist Churches, which consists of eight churches.

2004

Program for the Study of Organized Religion and Social Work changes its name to Program for Religion and Social Policy Research (PRSPR)

2006

The book “The other Philadelphia story: How local congregations support quality of life in urban America was published by University of Pennsylvania Press.

2008-2009

Dr. Ram Cnaan in collaboration with Dr. Robert J. Wineburg of University of North Carolina (Greensboro) conducted a census of Wilmington, DE congregations and nonprofit organizations. The study aimed to replicate the Philadelphia study and assess the interaction of congregations and other local NPOs. Charlene McGrew wrote her dissertation based on this study.

2009-2017

Dr. Ram Cnaan along with Drs. Van Evans and Daniel Curtis conducted the largest and first study of giving and volunteering among Latter Day Saints (LDS) members. These ambitious studies confirmed the extra-ordinary commitment of LDS members both in terms of giving to their own Church and to society at large. Currently the study is extended to include three South American countries (data collection in Colombia is completed). In addition, we were granted permission to study the unique phenomenon of Senior missionaries. Data were collected and one paper is currently under review. At the same period, PRSPR started a series of studies aiming to assess the valuation (fiscal estimates) of local religious congregations to their regional economies. The valuation studies originated with conceptual papers and culminated with two empirical studies taken together with Partners for Sacred Places. The first study was a preliminary one of 11 Philadelphia congregations and the latter one a three-city study of 90 congregations in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Fort Worth.

People

People

Director

Ram Cnaan, MSW, PhD
Founding and Former Faculty Director, PREP

Program Director, Program for Religion and Social Policy Research
Faculty Director, Goldring Reentry Initiative

Current Fellows

Dan Heist, MA
PhD in Social Welfare Student, School of Social Policy & Practice

Headshot of Dan Heist

Dan Heist is a third-year PhD student in Social Welfare at SP2. His research interests are private philanthropy, fundraising, and nonprofit leadership, with an emphasis on faith-based organizations. Dan worked for 8 years as a professional fundraiser for Latter Day Saints Philanthropies. He has a Masters in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Arts from Penn State.

Marquisha Lawrence Scott, MSW, MDiv
PhD In Social Welfare Student, School of Social Policy & Practice
Fontaine Fellow

Marquisha Lawrence Scott is a second year PhD student in Social Welfare at SP2. Scott has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary. Before coming to the University of Pennsylvania, she worked as both a researcher and community organizer. Her research interests are community-based research and nonprofit organization’s impact on social outcomes with an emphasis on faith-based institutions.

Elspeth Sarro
Master of Social Work Student, School of Social Policy & Practice

Elspeth Sarro is a second year MSW/ML dual degree candidate at both SP2 and Penn Law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Ursinus College and a Diplôme d’université d’études françaises from Université de Strasbourg. Her previous research has dealt with pluralism, interfaith dialogue, and expression of religious identity. She has worked in the Mayor’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives, the Penn Women’s Center, and The Salvation Army’s New Day to Stop Trafficking Program. In the summer of 2017, Elspeth will serve as a Philadelphia City Council Fellow in the office of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.

Past Fellows

Stephanie C. Boddie, MSW, PhD

Beverly Frazier, MBA, MDiv, PhD

Nicole Ives, MSW, PhD

Jennifer Kang, MPP

Charlene Chen McGrew, MSW, ThM, PhD

Faye Patterson, BA

Jill Witmer Sinha, MDiv, PhD

Vaughn Taylor, MS

publications

Publications

Books

Boddie, S. C., & Cnaan, R. A. (2007). Faith-based social services: Measures, assessments, and effectiveness. Bloomington, NY: Haworth Press.

Cnaan, R. A., with Boddie, S. C., McGrew, C. C., & Kang, J. (2006). The other Philadelphia story: How local congregations support quality of life in urban America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Cnaan, R. A., Boddie, S. C., Handy, F., Yancey, G., & Schneider, R. (2002). The invisible caring hand: American congregations and the provision of welfare. New York: New York University Press.

Cnaan, R. A., Wineburg, R. J., & Boddie, S. C. (1999). The newer deal: Social work and religion in partnership. New York: Columbia University Press.

Articles

Boddie, S. C., & Cnaan, R. A. (2007). Faith-based social services: Measures, assessments, and effectiveness. Bloomington, NY: Haworth Press.

Cnaan, R. A., with Boddie, S. C., McGrew, C. C., & Kang, J. (2006). The other Philadelphia story: How local congregations support quality of life in urban America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Heist, D. H., & Cnaan, R. A. (2016). Faith-based international development work: A review. Religions, 7(3), 1-17; doi:10.3390/rel7030019.

Luria, G., Cnaan, R. A., & Boehm, A. (In press). Religious attendance and volunteering: Testing national culture as a boundary condition. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Scott, M. L., Cnaan, R. A., & Heist, H. D. (In press). The clergy as a director of a local voluntary association.  Society and Welfare (Hebrew: Hevra VeRevacha).

Scott, M.L. & Cnaan, R. (In preparation). Valued members in congregations.

Scott, M. L. & Cnaan, R. (In Press).  The faith community and poverty alleviation in the age of new public management. Nonprofit Policy Forum.

Curtis, D., Evans, V., & Cnaan, R. A. (2015). Charitable practices of Latter-day Saints. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 44(1), 146-162. http://nvs.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/10/29/0899764013507141.full.pdf+html

Curtis, D., Evans, V., & Cnaan, R. A. (2014). Motivating Mormons: An analysis of what motivates members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to volunteer and donate. Nonprofit Management & Leadership, 25(2), 131-145.

Evans, V., Curtis, D., & Cnaan, R. A. (2013). Volunteering among Latter-day Saints. Journal for the scientific Study of Religion, 52(4), 827-841.

Cnaan, R. A., Forrest, T., Carlsmith, J., & Karsh, K. (2013). If you don’t count it, it doesn’t count: A pilot study of valuing urban congregations.  Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion. 10(1), 3-36. DOI:10.1080/14766086.2012.758046.

Cnaan, R. A., & Curtis, D. W. (2013). Religious congregations as voluntary associations: An overview. Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 42(1), 7-33.

Curtis, D., & Cnaan, R. A. (2012). International volunteering by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. International Journal of Religion and Society, 2(4), 1-12.

Cnaan, R. A.,  Pessi, A. B., Zrinščak, S., Brudney, J. L., Haski-Leventhal, D., Handy, F., Holmes, K., Hustinx, L., Kang, C., Meijs, L. C. P. M., Ranade, B., & Yamauchi, N. (2012). Student Values, Religiosity, and Pro-Social Behaviour: A Cross-National Perspective. Diaconia, 3(1), 2-25.

Curtis, D. W., & Cnaan, R. A. (2011). International Volunteering by Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. International Journal of Religion and Society, 2(4), 303-314.

Cnaan, R. A., & Newman, E. (2010). The safety net and faith-based services. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 29(40), 321-336.

Ives, N. G., Sinha, J. W., & Cnaan, R. A. (2010). Who is welcoming the stranger? The Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work, 29(1), 71-89.

Cnaan, R. A. (2009). Valuing the contribution of urban religious congregations. Public Management Review, 11(5), 641-662.

Cnaan, R. A., & Dichter, M. (2008). Thoughts on the use of knowledge in social work practice. Research in Social Work Practice, 18(4), 278-284.

Wineburg, R. J., Coleman, B. L., Boddie, S. C., & Cnaan, R. A. (2008). Leveling the playing field: Epitomizing devolution through faith-based organizations. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, XXXV(1), 17-42.

Sinha, J. W., Hillier, A., Cnaan, R. A., & McGrew, C. C. (2007). Proximity matters: Understanding resident and commuter congregations through an ecological framework. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 46(2), 245-260.

Boddie, S. C., & Cnaan, R. A. (2006). Setting the context: Assessing the effectiveness of faith-based social services. Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 25(3-4), 5-18.

Cnaan, R. A. (2006). Faith in the closet: Reflections of a secular academic. Arete, 30(1), 19-29.

McGrew, C. C., & Cnaan, R. A. (2006). Historical and methodological lack of studying religion in social services. Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 25(3-4), 19-37.

Sinha, J. W., Cnaan, R. A., & Gelles, R. J. (2006). Adolescent risk behaviors and religion: Findings from a national study. Journal of Adolescence, 30(2), 231-249.

Boddie, S. C., & Cnaan, R. A. (2005). The role of faith-based social service providers in expanding privatization in the United States. Social Security, No. 70, 110-137. (In Hebrew).

Cnaan, R. A., Boddie, S. C., & Kang, J. J. (2005). Religious congregations as social services providers for older adults. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 45 (1/2).

Cnaan, R. A., Gelles, R. J. & Sinha, J. W. (2004). Youth and religion: The Gameboy generation goes to the “church”. Social Indicators Research, 68 (2), 175-200.

Cnaan, R. A. & Helzer, A. L. (2004). Women in congregations and community serving: Findings from the Philadelphia census. Social Thought.

Cnaan, R. A., Sinha, J. W. & McGrew, C. C. (2004). Congregations as social service providers: Services, capacity, culture, and organizational behavior. Administration in Social Work, 28 (3/4), 47-67. In H. Schmid (Ed.). (2004) Organizational and institutional dilemmas of nonprofit human services. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.

Cnaan, R. A., Hernandez, E. I. & McGrew, C. C. (2003). Latino Congregations in Philadelphia: Understanding the Organized Religion of Immigrants. South Bend, Indiana: Notre Dame.

Cnaan, R.A., & Boddie, S.C. (2002). Charitable Choice and faith-based welfare: A call for social work. Social Work, 47, 224-235.

Cnaan, R. A. & Boddie, S. C. (2001). Black church outreach: Comparing how black and other congregations serve their needy neighbors, CRUCCS Report 2001-1. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

Cnaan, R. A. & Boddie, S. C. (2001). Philadelphia census of congregations and their        involvement in social service delivery. Social Service Review, (75)4, 559-580.

Cnaan, R. A., & Handy, F. (2000). Comparing neighbors: Social service provision by religious congregations in Ontario and the U.S.A. The American Review of Canadian Studies, 30, 521-543.

Cnaan, R. A. (1999). Empowerment through organized religion. In Wes Shera and Lillian Wells (Eds.). Empowerment practice in social work: Developing richer conceptual foundations (pp. 320-346). Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Cnaan, R. A. (1997). Social and community involvement of religious congregations housed in historic religious properties: Findings from a six-city study. Philadelphia: Program for the Study of Organized Religion and Social Work, University of Pennsylvania.

Cnaan, R. A. (1997). The future of social work: Religious congregations, denominations, and social service provision. In E. Gambrill and M. Reisch (Eds.), Social work in the 21st century (pp.271-284). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Grove.

Cnaan, R. A., & Milofsky, C. (1997). Small religious nonprofits : A neglected topic. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 25, S3-S13.

Jeavons, T., & Cnaan, R. A. (1997). The formation, transformation, and evolution of small religious organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 25, S62-S84.

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