COVID-19 Micro-Grants

In March 2020, the CSSW Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) offered the first round of Rapid Micro-Grants in response to the profound need for virtual advocacy and critical resources in many places navigating the uncertainty of COVID-19. Two awardees received $3500 to support their critical advocacy efforts. Six additional awardees received up to $1000 from the CSSW Dean’s Office.

Learn about the Rapid Micro-Grants awardees and their projects

Given the continued complexity and urgency of acting to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the OAA opened a second round of micro-grant applications in February 2021 to promote actions that provide aid to marginalized communities that were impacted severely by the virus. The office requested applications that would help communities receive accurate and necessary information about the vaccine, encourage them to get the vaccine and provide quick and equal access to the vaccine in their areas. After a thorough review of the excellent project proposals submitted, eight recipients, a combination of individual and group awardees, were selected.

This was followed by a third round of micro-grants, targeted to address issues and take action on the intersection of racial justice and mental health issues in the COVID era. The office received an abundance of high quality project proposals, far more than could be funded, and recipients were announced in November, 2021. The OAA was impressed by the width and depth of the work colleagues were doing. Thanks to the support of the Dean’s Office, the office was able to receive funding for five more projects, totaling seven projects for this round.

Learn about the second and third round projects below.

CSSW COVID-19 Racial Justice and Mental Health Micro-Grant Recipients

Telehealth “verzuz” Radical Telehealing: Reimagining Digital Social Media as Virtual Healing Spaces for Black Women

Project Intro

This study will examine the ways in which social media is being utilized to facilitate healing and self care among Black Women. Inspired by online community spaces that promote positive collectivism and connection created by DJ D-Nice such as the VERZUZ live music battles and “Club Quarantine”, the study aims to reimagine mental health technologies in a way that prioritizes the care and needs of Black Women. Researchers will use observational methods to gather information from social media surrounding how platforms engage healing and self care. The study will be used to analyze the impact of creating a telehealth model specifically for Black Women developed entirely void of white supremacist ideals that are historically and systematically foundational to medical care services.

Team Members

  • Chelsea A. Allen (CSSW student)
  • Zuleka Henderson (CSSW Lecturer)
  • Jalana Harris (CSSW Lecturer)
  • Rachel Chang (CC student)
  • Errica Williams (CSSW student)
  • Courtney D. Cogburn (CSSW Associate Professor)

Share information with the Harlem and Morningside community about Prolonged Grief Disorder

Project Intro

This project will provide information and resources to communities in Harlem and Morningside Heights about Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD). A recent addition to the DSM -5-TR, PGD results in significant impairment in functioning and is likely to be highly prevalent after pandemic related deaths. The project will address the impact of PGD in Harlem and Morningside Heights by developing educational materials and mental health resources to supplement the disparity of mental health care typically experienced by communities of color.

Team Members

  • Gaelle Bottex (CSSW student)
  • Amy Cuzzola-Kern (CSSW student)
  • Shanequa Perry (NYU MSW student)
  • Julio Martinez (CUNY MPH student)
  • Lena Green (Director of HOPE Center)
  • Katherine Shear (Director of Center for Prolonged Grief)

Healing as we Build: Black Women Centering Mental Health amid COVID-19

Project Intro

This project will create an affinity space for Black Women focused on healing and Black futurism. While Black Women play a pivotal role in communities, families and the national economy, they are continuously devalued and dismissed by public policies and institutional practices. COVID-19 has exacerbated these injustices as well as putting many Black Women at high risk as they fill frontline positions with disproportionately minimal benefits and low wages. This affinity space will prioritize healing, developing skills and tools to navigate chronic stress, and community building while crafting a plan for Black Futurism. Twelve to fifteen Black women in New York City will be enrolled in four three-hour meetings.

Team Members

  • Tiffany Younger (CSSW Lecturer)
  • Chandler Phillips (CSSW Student)
  • Mishael Sims (CSSW student)
  • Tyese Brown (Community Leader)
  • Lashawn Butler (Community Leader)

Supporting BIPOC Agency and Mental Health: A Resource Guide Informed and Developed by BIPOC Mental Health Advocates and Social Work Students

Project Intro

Created by members of Surviving Race, a collaboration among individuals who identify as having psychiatric histories, psychiatric survivors, BIPOC and LGBTQ12SA, this project will invite New Yorkers with mental health issues as well as CSSW MSW students interested in mental health careers to create knowledge around need of BIPOC New Yorkers regarding mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will yield a mental health resource guide, created by the MSW students in collaboration with BIPOC New Yorkers, that will be distributed publicly.

Team Members

  • Chyrell Bellamy (PhD, MSW, Yale School of Medicin​e)
  • ​Teena Brooks (LMSW, M.Phil, ABD, Columbia School of Social Work​)
  • ​Celia Brown (Surviving Race​)
  • Claire R. Chang (MA, PACFA, CCTP-II, MindFreedom International)
  • Jonathan P. Edwards (Ph.D., LCSW, ACSW, NYCPS, Columbia School of Social Work)
  • Kathleen O’Hara (PhD, MSW, ​Columbia University School of Social Work)​
  • O’Toole v. Cuomo (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York​)

Umoja Circles: A Free, Online Group Processing/Emotional Support Space for the Black & African Community

Project Intro

Umoja Circles is a program that offers free bio-psychosocial educational sessions to Black identifying adults in New York City. The sessions teach the power of mindfulness, relaxation, and psychoeducation grounded predominantly in cognitive behavioral therapy ideologies tailored to the Black social and cultural experience. With this grant, Umoja Circles will expand its virtual processing programming by offering financial incentives for participants, develop educational program materials , and open their services to black identifying children as young as 6 years old.

Team Members

  • Ashley Cole, Jr.
  • Dr. Ovita Williams
  • Eva Gordon
  • Deidra Brooks
  • Chandler Phillips
  • Chantel Plummer
  • Gabriela Carrillo-Meza
  • May Lee

ShockTalk pilot: Increasing access to culturally appropriate telemental health services for Indigenous clients

Project Intro

ShockTalk is a “culturally tailored telemental health platform” that connects Indigenous people with Indigenous mental health care providers. Indigenous people suffer from high rates of mental health issues as well as limited mental health resources. After conducting interviews with indigenous communities, the ShockTalk team identified the lack of culturally appropriate service providers and lack of systems to help indigenous clients seeking mental health care as two significant barriers to the community receiving appropriate care. ShockTalk is currently in beta testing and the team will use this grant to grow their network of culturally-appropriate mental health professionals.

Team Members

  • Ariel Richer (CSSW PhD Student, ShockTalk Director of Research)
  • Austin Serrio (ShockTalk CEO)
  • Sutton King (ShockTalk COO)

Training to Support BIPOC Workers’ Mental Health Needs During COVID-19

Project Intro

This project confronts the need for more BIPOC worker’s mental health support in the workplace, specifically amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Research will be done to understand how BIPOC workers perceive the mental health support that is currently offered by their organizations. Results from this research will be analyzed and used to develop training sessions for organizations to better their mental health support for BIPOC employees. The research findings will be offered on social media as well as a white paper that will be made available to other organizations.

Team Members

  • David Bolt (CSSW Lecturer)
  • Carmen Foster (UTK SSW – Consultant)