SWCOS' mission is to advance social justice through mutually transformative community-university parternships.

The vision of SWCOS is that all communities will be equitable and promote well-being, self-determination, individual and collective power.

SWCOS provides students with hands-on experience working on critical social issues in an encouraging, creative atmosphere that prepares them to be leaders in community social work; it provides those in need with quality services; and creates research opportunities to generate new knowledge in social work practice.


SWCOS is planning to establish inter-professional community-driven research initiatives that address critical social issues identified by community partners bordering the UM campus and beyond. Our research will assist organizations make decisions, clarify issues, assist with policy and improve practice.

Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating with us on a research initiative.

School social workers as partners in the school mission by Nadine M. Finigan-Carr and Wendy E. Shaia

The comprehensive services social workers can provide can address many barriers to student learning. But schools don’t always take full advantage of these professional skills. Full Framework.


Moving from survival to fulfillment: A planning framework for community schools, by Wendy E. Shaia and Nadine Finigan-Carr

A three-part conceptual framework to help community school coordinators plan and assess the wide range of services they provide to children and families. Moviing From Survival To Fulllfillment


University Supported Community Schools: One Organization’s Journey, By Wendy E. Shaia

Using a social justice lens, the Social Work Community Outreach Services (SWCOS) at the University of Maryland School of Social Work has developed a framework for its community schools work, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. University Supported Community Schools.


Schools as retraumatizing environments, by Wendy E. Shaia and Shanda C. Crowder

Many African-American children in urban environments arrive at school experiencing the effects of complex trauma from their homes and communities, only to find that schools are environments where their trauma goes unrecognized and may be inadvertently exacerbated. DoSchools as retraumatizing enviornments.pdfwnload PDF.

University Engagement

In addition, we help mobilize campus resources to address requests from community partners for various forms of service (mental health services, school social work, leadership training and development etc.) and research (needs/assets assessment, program evaluation, and outcome evaluation research).

We also establish inter-professional community-driven research initiatives that address critical social issues identified by community partners bordering the UM campus and beyond. Our research will assist organizations make decisions, clarify issues, assist with policy and improve practice. Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating with us on a research initiative.

Civic Leadership

SWCOS is a key resource for nonprofits to better meet their mission through increased leadership and management effectiveness. With 20 years of experience in community-engaged education and practice as well as expertise in leadership development, we seek to support a strong, vibrant nonprofit sector.

Contact us about providing consultation and training in topics such as community engagement, non-profit sector sustainability, and policy advocacy for UM faculty, students and community partners. Additional support is available in the following areas:

  • Nonprofit Capacity Building (strategic planning, nonprofit governances, facilitated assessments)
  • University-Community partnership (history of Baltimore City neighborhoods, Sustainable community partnerships)
  • Fundraising (readiness, grassroots strategies, grant seeking)
  • Board/Staff Development (DiSC Personal Profile, Performance Culture, leadership values)
  • Community Organizing (dynamics of power & privilege, community-led economic development)
  • Community-based Mental Health (clinical supervision, utilizing data, quality assurance, client engagement)

Education & Service

We create dynamic, innovative, student-driven internships that expand services to individuals, organizations and communities and train students to be effective civic leaders who are committed to sustainable community change.

We seek to address the following community problems in our education and service programs:

  • The path to adulthood in a safe, secure family is full of nearly insurmountable obstacles if you enter the world in poverty.
  • Urban neighborhoods and communities in Baltimore City have been damaged by a number of forces over the past half-century. People with wealth and important skills moved to the suburbs. Home values dropped. Availability of jobs declined as employers left. The drug trade became a "replacement economy" with devastating impact on families and neighborhoods. Crime increased. With fewer public resources, the public education system declined.
  • Every year, throughout the Baltimore region, dozens of new community organizations spring up to help their communities. Unfortunately, at least that many go out of business, creating a disruption of service for those most in need.

Our programs include: 

Family Connections
A multifaceted, community-based service program that works with vulnerable families in their homes and in the context of their neighborhoods to help them meet the basic needs of their children who meet risk criteria for maltreatment.

Positive Schools Center
Partners with school districts to identify and collaborate around issues related to school climate and punitive discipline, especially when those issues result in high rates of suspensions and expulsions. The five key pillars of the Center’s school climate include leadership, positive relationships, engaged teaching and learning, welcoming environments, and health and safety.

Community Schools
A school-wide community-focused strategy to promote student achievement, positive conditions for learning and the well-being of families and communities.

Care Coordination
Support Services to adults and children who have been referred by schools, families, communities or SWCOS partners. Services include community outreach; case management; and crisis intervention.

Peace Corps Fellows
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers bring prior experiences working with marginalized communities and foreign language skills to assist with urban challenges through their graduate studies in social work.

Neighborhood Fellows
Supports organizational capacity of neighborhood revitalization organizations to accomplish their mission in the following ways: strengthened business systems and organizational structures; increasing resources for the organization through fundraising and grant writing; and assisting with advocacy around a particular campaign.

Program Management
Students work on various projects with the goal of building more sustainable organizations. Projects may include developing strategic plans, social media engagement, special events, advisory board management, meeting facilitation, grant writing, and organizational assessments. 

Public Policy
SWCOS interns work to identify and analyze social, educational, economic, and health problems that pose barriers to self-efficacy.

Social Work in Libraries
Partners with Enoch Pratt Free Library to engage social work professionals in the library system through providing referral and support services to individuals and families, organizing support groups that foster peer network building among library patrons, increasing community volunteers, and training library staff around crisis intervention, accessing public benefits and supporting youth development.

Ready to be a Changemaker?