The Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation

FROM:      James Herbert Williams, President, Board of Directors, Society for Social Work and Research

TO:            SSWR Members

DATE:      October 24, 2016

RE:            The Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation

The Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) is pleased to announce a cooperative agreement with the New York Community Trust (NYCT) to assume responsibility for soliciting and reviewing applications to the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation (

The Fund was established with The New York Community Trust in 1993 by Dr. Dorothy Fahs-Beck to support research on understanding and ameliorating the problems of families, individuals, and communities. These interests were a natural extension of Dorothy’s socially progressive background and life-long empirical bent.  Before the terms qualitative and quantitative research existed or the methods explicated, Dorothy undertook both while attending college in the south during the 1920s.  In preparation for a paper about the cotton mill industry, she got a job tending a spinning machine and wrote about the long hours, low pay, and harsh working conditions.  Dorothy had a passion for research and social justice.

Dorothy found her professional home at the Family Service Association of America (FSAA), where she served as the Director of Research from 1956 until retirement in 1981. During that time, she designed and conducted ground-breaking research in services to families and individuals. Dorothy’s research assistant at the time, Mary Ann Jones, who later joined the faculty at the NYU (now Silver) School of Social Work.  Mary Ann is a charter member of SSWR.  Mary Ann states that Dorothy’s greatest contribution to social work knowledge was her insistence on the inclusion of the client’s perspective in evaluations of services and interventions.

Robert (Bob) Edgar, VP of Donor Relations at NYCT, worked with Dorothy and her husband, Hubert Park Beck, to establish a fund in 1986. After her husband’s death, Dorothy creates the current Fund. In the beginning, Dorothy read every application herself and even advised applicants on how to improve the design of their studies.  In 1995, she was no longer able to maintain that level of engagement and requested that Mary Ann Jones form and chair a committee of social work researchers from the NYC area to review applications to the Fund.

This year, several of the founding members of the advisory committee, including Mary Ann, decided that it is time for them to step down from the committee. As attention turned to identifying potential new members, it became clear that the advisory committee should no longer be limited to social work scholars in the NYC area, and, in fact, it would be beneficial to draw upon a wide network of social work scholars who share Dorothy’s commitment to the contribution of empirical research for the improvement of services to improve the quality and well-being of people’s lives.  Mary Ann spoke with Bob about a cooperative agreement with SSWR.  After a series of discussions between SSWR, NYCT, and Mary Ann, a cooperative agreement between the two organizations was signed September 27, 2016.

This is a wonderful opportunity for SSWR to partner with The New York Community Trust in fulfilling Dorothy Fahs-Beck’s commitment to applying state-of-the-art research in the quest to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities.

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