The First Two Years of Development: YSocialWork’s Case Study:
The First Two Years of Development
The first two years of YSocialWork, Inc.’s development sheds light on issues of board fragmentation, competition, and capacity (Carman, & Nesbit, 2013). Some of these issues originated before incorporation. Others originated as the organization began to define its mission. One unique aspect of these issues was the immense challenge to maintain the same momentum created by an advocacy-based hashtag that signified a rare moment of public storytelling behind the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act. But after two years of lobbying and building social media awareness, the bill remained bleak, still with fewer than a one-percent chance of enactment, while the larger society continues to live in abject poverty, placing more pressure on the profession to solve diverse challenges. The provisions in this bill were so overlooked by the members of Congress that the idea to employ strategies that force institutional change became Shauntia White’s driving force to incorporate YSocialWork as a social movement organization (SMO), but how?
Throughout the entire stage of problem framing and ideation, YSocialWork, Inc. maintained its commitment to the safe passage of the Social Work Reinvestment Act by bringing significant challenges facing the social work profession to the forefront of design thinking. Historically, social work professionalization achieved legitimacy through research and industry-academia interactions, but its contributions to social change have been questionable. Thus, to say, the level at which 13-14 % of social workers who work in local or state government, excluding education and hospitals, are making social justice and equality to others, in its most authentic form, hard to measure.
Focused on addressing the profession’s workforce challenges, the need to create new pedagogical structures and practice methodologies became crystal clear. However, the problem lies in its planning: its mission and strategic goals and objectives.
In March of 2019, YSocialWork, Inc. was incorporated and trademarked in the State of Maryland and established its 501(c)3 status as an “Educational Organization” under the classification of “Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups.” The same year, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement marked five years of action, and the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter had been used nearly 30 million times on Twitter since the first instance in 2013. Inspired by this movement, the impetus behind YSocialWork, Inc. was conceived: To mobilize youth and young adults as change agents to solve to some of our profession’s most pressing social, economic, and political issues of our times, creating programs that advance racial and economic equity across human services.
Within the first six months of receiving articles of incorporation, the first goal was to create a more expansive Board of Directors, which included licensed and macro social workers and experts in finance. Once achieved, the steps following consisted of onboarding new members and planning the organizational structure and mission, but that was never achieved because its members were still learning amidst ongoing stakeholder engagements.
After one year of planning, YSocialWork, Inc. was ready to launch an experiential classroom for high school students, until COVID-19 hit. But YSocialWork, Inc. recruited a high school leader and kept going with the plans, and remained very fastidious about the implementation of activities supporting YSocialWork, Inc.’s mission and building stakeholder relationships across institutions in Prince George’s County. However, as COVID-19 worsened, it became very unpredictable how the programs with high school and community colleges will materialize, and if YSocialWork, Inc. is ready to take the risk regardless of new challenges of board governance, mission-driven strategic partnerships, and impact measurements.