The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) was created in 2012 as a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization that would complement the mission and work of the Congressional Social Work Caucus founded by Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns in 2010 with the assistance of Dr. Charles E. Lewis, Jr., his deputy chief of staff and communications director. A social worker, Mr. Towns had been a member of the House of Representatives since 1983, representing residents of Brooklyn, NY, and, after nearly three decades in Congress, his retirement was imminent. Dr. Lewis feared that without a complementing nonprofit entity, the Social Work Caucus could become inactive and defunct because every Congressional Member Organization (CMO) must be reauthorized for each new Congress every two years.
CRISP officially launched on April 16, 2013, with a reception at the Monocle Restaurant, 107 D Street, NE in Washington. Reps. Charles Rangel and Marcia Fudge attended as did former New York Knicks all-star guard Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, a friend of then-Congressman Towns. CRISP launched with a commitment to expanding social workers’ engagement with Congress and the federal government. CRISP sees itself as a bridge between social workers and the federal government ensuring our research is known to federal policymakers. CRISP also works to expand opportunities for students to find field placements in federal government offices both on the Hill and in district offices near their schools. CRISP employs strategies to raise social workers’ awareness about the federal legislative process through seminars, conferences, and webinars.
When Mr. Towns retired from Congress in January, he left the Social Work Caucus in the capable hands of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a social worker representing Oakland, CA, who agreed to chair the Social Work Caucus and has every Congress since. However, CMOs have no operating budget and are not allowed any funding other than allocations from the budgets of Members of Congress known as the Members Representation Allowance (MRA), often making it difficult to staff CMOs as each member of Congress join multiple groups. Several CMO, including the Congressional Black Caucus, have created nonprofit entities to complement the work of those caucuses.
On September, 2013, CRISP held its first congressional briefing in conjunction with the Social Work Caucus titled, “Social Work with Men and Boys of Color.” We held an all-day symposium on Children’s Mental Health Services or October 29, 2013 co-sponsored with the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. We co-sponsored a December 12, 2013 briefing on Poverty and Child Neglect with the National Association of Social Work and the Council on Social Work Education, also in conjunction with the Social Work Caucus. During ensuing years, CRISP has conducted briefings on numerous topics including child welfare, the Affordable Care Act, military social work, and guns and school safety.
Our first Social Work Day on the Hill event was held on March 17, 2015. A Student Advocacy Day event held was from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the Members Room of the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress. The event was coordinated by Shauntia White and the YSocialWork organization. A reception was held in the Rayburn House Office Building in the afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The late Honorable Ronald V. Dellums was our guest of honor and featured speaker. Our Student Advocacy Day and Social Work Day on the Hill events have become annual events. Events were canceled in 2018 due to a severe snowstorm. Events in 2020 were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our mission is to use the power of social work on the Hill. If you have suggestions or ideas that you think should be reviewed on the Hill, we value your input. Write to us to further discuss your thoughts. Social workers face many challenges on the Hill. It’s people like you standing behind social workers with time and resources that help them gain victory on their initiatives. They’re led by the issues that also matter to you in your everyday life. The well-being of every citizen in our local area and nationwide is contingent on the extension of their efforts. They also work diligently to get to the underlying problem. We challenge you to get involved with the candidates being elected at district, county, and state levels in your community. Crispinc.org is prepared to partner with you for a brighter future.