Together, we can change the world
Since 1954, the School of Social Work has been preparing students to be leaders in the social work profession – to leverage their compassion, skills, and knowledge to improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities in our local, state, national, and global society. As one of the largest social work schools in the country, our reach is vast. Your generous support enables SSW to attract and retain outstanding faculty and students. From establishing scholarships to funding research, you can make the difference of a lifetime. Every gift matters.
Ways to Give
Mail your check, made payable to Rutgers University Foundation, to the address below. Be sure to indicate on the memo line your choice of what your gift should support, as well as your name and address for record keeping and gift acknowledgment.
Rutgers University Foundation
PO Box 193
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-0193
Many companies will make a matching gift to Rutgers when an employee or their spouse makes a donation. To find out if you or your spouse's company has such a program, visit our matching gifts page.
Are you interested in making a bequest in your will to the School of Social Work? Does receiving an income for the rest of your lifetime sound appealing? Have you considered making a gift of real estate or life insurance to support the School? To find out more about these and many other gift opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gift of Securities
To make a gift of stock, please provide information here.
Rutgers employees can make charitable contributions to the university by payroll deduction. To sign up, please email email@example.com.
The Latina/o Initiatives for Service, Training, and Assessment (LISTA) program at Rutgers School of Social Work addresses the need for culturally competent social work practitioners serving Latino/a communities. LISTA has grown into a certificate program at the School, providing students with education on evidence-based culturally sensitive practices, field placements in Hispanic serving agencies, and experiential learning through study abroad opportunities in Hispanic countries. This endowment provides financial support to students enrolled in this certificate program.
The Sheryl Lanman Nichols Memorial Fund Supporting Student Research on Ending Violence carries on the legacy of Sheryl Lanman Nichols, MSW'10 by funding student research grants at the Center for Research on Ending Violence. This fellowship was established by her parents, Sandra, DC '72, SC&I '03 and Steven, RC '71 Lanman. As an MSW student, Sheryl was a student research assistant at the Center and later dedicated her career to working with survivors of interpersonal violence.
Read Sheryl's story below.
“My name is Saggy Bag. I like to talk to my freind Sheryl. When I am crying, she asks me whats the matter. She helps me cure my problums.”
When 8-year-old Sheryl Lanman wrote those words in her second-grade journal, little did she know how presciently they described her future path in life.
At East Brunswick High School, Sheryl loved her psychology courses. She excelled and was able to get a head start on her major at Rutgers College. After arriving on campus in 1999, she plunged into psychology and chose Spanish and sociology as minors.
As an undergraduate, she joined 56 Place – now Scarlet Listeners – a student-staffed hotline that offers peer counseling to fellow students. By her senior year, Sheryl was helping to train new peer counselors.
Scarlet Listeners often referred students in crisis to professionals and outside agencies. One of them was Women Aware in New Brunswick, which serves women and families affected by domestic violence. Sheryl began working at the shelter on weekends, helping women who were escaping abusive situations.
Sheryl excelled at Rutgers, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and other honor societies. She spent a semester in Spain, honing her language skills, which would continue to be an asset. She graduated in 2003 and began working full time for Women Aware and volunteering with New Brunswick’s Domestic Violence Response Team. She also took time to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in the Dominican Republic to help build houses and also improve her language skills so she could better serve Latina women in her job.
Knowing she couldn't gain more responsibility without an advanced degree, Sheryl decided in 2008 to pursue a master's degree full-time at the School of Social Work. While there, she worked on research projects for the Center for Violence Against Women and Children, now the Center for Research on Ending Violence, that involved traveling around the country to interview survivors of domestic violence.
Graduation in 2010 was a joyous time. Sheryl was joined by her family and husband-to-be, Justin Nichols, when she received her MSW and would soon become a licensed social worker. Not long after, she began working as a bilingual social worker for Womanspace, the Mercer County agency providing services to survivors of domestic violence. She was determined to become a licensed clinical social worker so she could fulfill her dream of becoming a therapist. She and Justin bought a townhouse and began planning their wedding and future together.
But their joy was interrupted in September 2012, a month before their October 13 wedding. Sheryl was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her doctors assured her it was caught early and she would be fine.
Though she would have to begin chemotherapy when she returned from her honeymoon, Sheryl remained upbeat and optimistic. She was certain she would beat the disease and continued working during her treatments.
But a year after her diagnosis, Sheryl learned her cancer had spread to her liver. Over the next two years, she would undergo more chemotherapy and debilitating treatments and surgeries to keep it at bay. Though she was now on permanent disability, she remained upbeat, with her trademark smile and laugh even as the cancer spread to her brain and affected her ability to walk. Her desire to help others remained strong. When her health rallied, she began training as a volunteer child advocate for CASA, a role she would never get to fulfill.
Sheryl died on August 18, 2015, at the age of 34. Following her death, her second-grade journal was found among her school papers. Her family and friends were struck at how closely Sheryl’s path in life had mirrored the words she wrote as a child who wanted to help others cure their problems.
If you would like to honor Sheryl's legacy by supporting student research grants at the Center for Research on Ending Violence, please consider making a gift to the Sheryl Lanman Nichols Memorial Fund Supporting Student Research on Ending Violence fund in her memory.
Launched in December 2017, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Resource Guide is a database of over 150 agencies and services throughout New Jersey and the United States dedicated to serving families and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Understanding family members and caregivers of autistic adults are too often over-looked in terms of their lifelong need for information and services, our partnership with DJFF aims to address gaps in service. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation was the first not-for-profit and only all-volunteer run organization in the United States to focus on adult autism, and has been blazing trails since 2002. Their mission is to create paths leading to fulfilling and potential driven lives.
This partnership also hosts the work of four research fellows whose placement settings include The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, MyGoalAutism, and our Office of Field Education.
Please consider making a gift to The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Family Support Fellowship and Resource Guide Fund and show your support for families and autistic adults as we look to help navigate through this resource desert. Visit the database today at adultautism.rutgers.edu.
Dr. William Neal Brown, the grandson of a former slave and son of an African American father and Native American mother, grew up in poverty. He graduated first in his high school class, but was denied the usual honor of being valedictorian because of his race. Despite hardship and prejudice, he went on to earn his BA at the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia, where he excelled as a debater, and In 1950 he earned his MSW from Columbia University and then his Ph.D. in Human Growth and Development from City University of New York.
Dr. Brown died in April 2009 at the age of 90. His accomplishments were unique and varied – he served with the Tuskegee Airmen as a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII as a special services officer; he was hired as the first Black professor at Rutgers; he debated Malcolm X on the topic of “Integration or Separation” in 1961 at Rutgers School of Pharmacy in Newark, the debate sponsored by the NAACP and the Black Students Association. A recording of the debate is now part of the permanent collection of the Library of Congress.
In 1969 he was selected by NASW-NJ as recipient of the Social Worker of the Year award; he retired from the School of Social Work in 1989 as a Professor Emeritus; in 2007 he was cited as “a courageous pioneer in breaking down racial barriers and promoting equality” and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor; he attended President Obama’s Inauguration as an honored guest in January 2009 with the Tuskegee Airmen. Dr. Brown was a leader in the field of social work and authored many papers and articles. His paper on alienated youth was translated into 39 languages throughout the world and remains as relevant today as it was decades ago.
This endowed fund was established by Suzanne Zimmer, Dr. Brown’s loving partner, to honor his work as an educator and scholar. The funds will provide the necessary resources for an annual lecture on relevant and current topics about the human experience. Ms. Zimmer feels that her life was enriched by a long and loving relationship with Dr. Brown. Symbolically, this lecture will always remind us of his beliefs, values and teachings, and his blending of intellect and love into one. Dr. Brown actualized his potential as a dynamic, inspiring, and outstanding debater, scholar and educator.
Since 2017 the William Neal Brown Memorial Lecture series has been hosted as part of the School of Social Work's Challenging Racial Disparities Conference. Held annually, the conference is attended by hundreds of guests from the Rutgers and social work professional communities, and has hosted keynote speakers, including:
- Linda Villarosa
- Michael Eric Dyson
- Dorothy Roberts
- Robin DiAngelo
- Jelani Cobb
- Derald Wing Sue
- Carl Hart
- David Dante Troutt
- Jack Z. Bratich
- Larry E. Davis
- Rabbi Joshua Chasan
- Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Dr. Brown’s journey through a life of giving, loving and serving despite racism and bigotry should provide inspiration to all who have feelings that inhibit them from a positive, loving and fulfilling life. His students found him an inspiring influence on their education and their lives, and his legacy lives on in the education he imparted to his students during his 33 years at Rutgers.
To celebrate the impressive life and achievements of Dr. William Neal Brown and to help support lectures that honor the blending of intellect and the human spirit follow this link to make a gift.
View a video, Pictures & Voice of Professor William Neal Brown, on YouTube.
Rutgers School of Social Work's programs on aging are committed to training and developing a gerontological workforce that is prepared to provide leadership and demonstrate excellence in meeting the challenges and maximizing the strengths of an aging population.
There are two cornerstones of Rutgers SSW's Programs on Aging: our Aging and Health certificate program and the MSW Fellowship in Aging.
The certificate program is embedded within the master's curriculum, as it allows students to complete the standard MSW coursework, while focusing their efforts on aging and health. As part of the Program's commitment to fostering excellence in social work, students who show exceptional dedication in their work in aging and health are selected for the fellowship program.
Students Supporting Students started in 2012 as a senior class campaign.
Our first suggested donation of $20.12 has grown over the past five years to nearly 30 individual scholarship awards raised by over 1,300 donations.
Today, Students Supporting Students is a participation-based campaign, aimed at building a community and culture of philanthropy among faculty and staff, alumni, and students to provide scholarships for current MSW students.
"Students Supporting Students gives people like me, who might not normally be able to afford Rutgers the opportunity to take classes," said Jennifer Pugliese a 2015 Students Supporting Students scholarship recipient and third-year MSW student. "The scholarship allows students to focus more on school and less on working so they can get more out of their academic experience."
Rutgers School of Social Work's Transitions for Youth and New Brunswick Fellows within the Institute for Families are supportive programs for students already accepted into the University who are current or former youth transitioning out of foster care with experience in the child welfare system as an adolescent. Youth take part in skills workshops, research, and goal setting for financial and personal needs. Watch the video below to learn more about Amanda, an alumna of Transitions for Youth.
Support areas for our Transitions for Youth and New Brunswick Fellows programs include:
- A nurturing environment where fellows can expect to receive quality and supportive coaching on a one-on-one basis
- Educational workshops to help fellows realize and work towards their educational, career, and personal goals
- Housing and food stipends for each fellow during school break periods, if needed
- A textbook stipend to assist with the purchase of text books and related academic materials
- A laptop for academic, professional, and personal use for new Price fellows
- A research fellowship allowing each fellow to engage in original research under the mentorship of a Rutgers University faculty or staff member, or an field placements related to the career interests of our students
Watch our video, Fostering Hope - Transitions for Youth, on YouTube.
To help support our youth, follow this link to make your gift.
Lisa Alvarez Oberle SSW’93 was the consummate social worker – a dedicated clinician who went above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis to ensure the best outcome for those in her care. In addition to juggling all of her professional duties as a social worker for the Visiting Nurse Association, she also expertly managed her family responsibilities, which were her true passion.
Life was not always easy balancing work – which included a daily commute between East Brunswick, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York – family duties, and her own self-care, but Lisa made it all appear effortless. “She was always running from work to home with her paperwork in hand, never missing my basketball and softball games,” explains Lisa’s daughter, Paige. “She would be doing two million things at once, but it was never too much for her. She loved it.”
Lisa’s friends and family, including her husband and son, both named Gerard, felt nothing but constant support, warmth, and love from Lisa. “Every night at dinner, my mom would ask us to share the highs and lows of our day. As a child, I thought it was quite corny and annoying, but now I know she was asking the question to encourage us to talk about our lives and feelings,” Paige remembers. Lisa also made it a priority to be a good daughter to her own parents and her in-laws who lived nearby. She was always there for anyone who needed her at any time – no questions asked.
In 2006, when Paige was just 12 years old, tragedy struck the Oberle family. Lisa passed away suddenly at just 39 years old. A life that had manifested so much good in such a short time, and had the potential for so much more, was gone far too soon. Lisa was the heart of her circles and had touched each life she encountered in a profound way.
When Lisa died, her community gathered in support of the Oberle family and let them know how much she meant. “Heaven now has the best social worker,” wrote one of Lisa’s friends in a letter to the family. The child of one of Lisa’s clients similarly described Lisa in a letter saying, “Lisa was more than a social worker to my mother, but a confidant who always gave her best advice. Although she was officially my mother’s social worker, she was unofficially mine as well. She was an ear who listened to my problems and gave me the best advice as well.”
“It was something that impacted my whole life,” Paige says about her mother’s untimely death. “My mom was incredible. She was my best friend,” she recalls. Somehow, life continued on without Lisa. But Paige and her family were left to mark so many important milestones like birthdays and graduations without their most ardent supporter. Although she wasn’t there physically, Lisa continued to have an influence on Paige. When it came time to decide on a career path, Paige knew she had to pursue a caring profession. “I saw how much my mom gave her life to others and how fulfilled it made her, so for me it was a no brainer – there was nothing else I wanted to do other than being a nurse practitioner,” she says.
Paige decided to enroll in Seton Hall University where she earned degrees in nursing. It’s also where she met Jason, her partner of eight years and soon-to-be husband. Although Jason never had the opportunity to meet Lisa, he sees how she lives on through Paige. “I've gotten to know a lot about Lisa by hearing stories from Paige and from Lisa’s best friend, Chrissy. But the biggest source of getting to know Lisa has been seeing a lot of qualities Paige describes about her mother or people describe about her mother in Paige,” Jason explains.
In fact, a year and a half ago, Chrissy, whom Paige calls a “second mom,” got the devastating news that she was in liver failure. Paige decided to donate part of her liver to Chrissy, which saved her life. Paige remained in the hospital for over a week post-operatively, and it took nearly six months for her to recover from her life-changing gift. “It’s exactly what I gather her mom would have done, so I truly get to see Lisa through Paige,” says Jason. “Now we joke that we're blood related,” Paige says of Chrissy with a laugh. “What’s even more special is we can now say there's a part of my mom in her, too, which is just wild. It’s yet another way my mom’s legacy is living on.”
Paige and Jason are now planning their wedding, which is scheduled to take place in 2023. “As I get older and I have these milestones in front of me, my mom continues to impact me more and more,” Paige explains. The couple knew they wanted to incorporate Lisa into the wedding in some way but took some time to figure out how to best honor her tremendous legacy.
Initially, the couple considered making a donation to a charity but felt it wouldn’t do justice to Lisa. Instead, Jason came up with the idea to create a scholarship in Lisa’s name. “When we were thinking about ways to honor my mom, we realized many of her family members and friends were still looking for a way to remember her and keep her memory alive,” Paige says. “I’m excited to share this opportunity with all of them. It’s not just about us but about all the lives she touched. Jason and I can't say we're doing it on our own.”
The couple is aiming to raise $50,000 for an endowment before their wedding to support future generations of social workers at Rutgers. “When I think about my mom,” Paige says, “I remember her as the most incredible mother. But bigger than that, I think of her as a social worker. I know how much she impacted her clients, and she was a social worker for her family, friends, and everyone around her. Rutgers was a big part of her journey, so Jason and I agreed that we wanted the scholarship to benefit a social work student who could carry on her work.”
Creating the scholarship has also been cathartic for Paige. “Developing the scholarship has brought me a lot of comfort on this journey because I'm missing my mom. As much as it's the most amazing time planning a wedding, I'm also missing her more than ever. It’s been the perfect way to bring her into the celebration and has become a happy light for my family and me,” Paige says.
Paige and Jason view the scholarship as a way of passing the torch from one social worker to another. “My mom’s not here, but we can support a social work student who's going to continue doing the work she did. What gives me comfort during this time, too, is doing something to keep her memory alive and keep the stories about her going.” Paige and Jason hope to help students who embody Lisa’s values and hold similar qualities – thoughtful, compassionate, and dedicated to changing the world one person at a time.
Paige and Jason are aware that the endowment goal will only be possible through the support of family, friends, and all those who wish to see Lisa’s legacy live on for generations to come. “We’re only able to even think about doing this because we know the impact Lisa has had on her friends and family – we are confident her ever-lasting impact will motivate people to donate,” says Jason. Paige adds, “we’ve spoken with some family and close friends already and everyone is extremely excited to be a part of creating this endowment and honoring my mom.”
“We are calling on all of Lisa’s family, friends, former (and forever) clients, or anyone who has been touched by a social worker and wants to be a part of fostering the next generation of social workers to donate, regardless of the amount,” Paige and Jason explain. Donating to The Lisa Alvarez Oberle Memorial Scholarship will not only directly impact the life of a future social worker but also all the lives that student may touch for years to come. A gift will have exponential dividends and reverberate Lisa’s message of positivity and kindness in the world.