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.
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.
1999 – 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.
2002 – 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.