Research, Policy, and Advocacy

The Humphreys Institute works with faculty around the country to study the political participation of social workers and communities as well as the quality and impact of our programming. We also work to expand voting rights through education and advocacy and support policies that help people become lifelong, informed voters in all elections.

volunteers at a polling place on Election Day 2020 with donuts and coffee for voters

Hartford Power Voting Corps

Funded by a Hartford Foundation for Public Giving grant, the UConn Hartford Power Voting Corps worked throughout 2020 to get out the vote for the historic 2020 presidential election. Led by adjunct professor and doctoral candidate Angela Bellas and Humphreys Institute interns Meg Wolfe and Taylor Tucker, students ran voter registration drives at Wheeler Clinic community health center, mobilized voters through Connecticut Students for a Dream phone banks, texted voters through an effort led by doctoral candidate Alberto Cifuentes Jr., visited undergraduate classrooms at UConn Hartford to encourage students to vote, and participated in election protection trainings. On Election Day, volunteers spent hours at the city's busiest polling location, answering questions, looked up polling sites for unsure voters, and ensured individuals with disabilities had accommodations to vote. They provided hot chocolate, coffee, snacks, crayons, hand warmers, and stickers to the hundreds of Hartford voters who in some cases waited hours to vote in the cold. Read more at UConn Today.

UConn Lobby Day

In March of 2019, the Humphreys Institute and the UConn School of Social Work hosted the first UConn Lobby Day at the Connecticut Capitol Building/ Legislative Office Building. Students of all concentrations (IGFP, CORG, and POPR) and programs (BSW, MSW, and Ph.D.) came together to meet with social workers who currently hold elected office, lobby legislators, and attend public hearings to bring the full power of our profession to the political realm.

Student Advocacy Day on the Hill and Social Work Day on the Hill

Each year, a group of MSW students from the University of Connecticut travel with the Humphreys Institute to attend these events hosted by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP). In 2019 we sponsored 14 students to attend, representing all three of our concentrations. Students lobbied the offices of Senator Chris Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative Jahana Hayes, and Representative Joe Courtney; toured the Capitol Building; attended panel presentations with professionals and students in social work; and met with social work students from across the country.

Sherise Truman testifies at a public hearing
Sherise Truman testifies at a Connecticut General Assembly Labor & Public Employees Committee hearing on March 8, 2018.


Our students have advocated for causes they believe in by testifying at public hearings to influence laws. For example, in early 2021, two UConn MSW students and a UConn Social Work doctoral student testified to the Connecticut General Assembly's Committee on Children. Humphreys Institute interns Melissa Keilty and Taylor Tucker, both MSW students, testified to support HB 6112: An Act Requiring a Survey of Court-Involved Youth, encouraging the committee to expand the survey to collect data on LGBTQ+ youth specifically. Tucker was invited to work with a new committee on data collection for LGBTQ+ students. Ph.D. student Cindy Dubuque-Gallo testified in favor of SB36: An Act Concerning School Lunch Debt, which would allow anyone to pay off a student's school lunch debt. Sen. Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor, asked her to work further with the committee to share her expertise.


UConn 360 Podcast: Healthy Democracy, Healthy People (March 9, 2022)

UConn Hartford Power Voting Corps Plays Important Role in Historic Election Day (Nov. 11, 2020)

Social Work Students on ‘Front Lines’ in Connecticut’s Congressional Offices (June 17, 2019)

A Voice Through Voting (Nov. 1, 2018)

Social Work Students Head to Capitol Hill (March 1, 2016)

Getting Out the Vote (Nov. 3, 2014)

Former Social Work Dean Makes $1M Bequest to School (July 8, 2014)

Recent Publications

Hill, K., Smith, T.R., Lane, S.R. & Shannon, S. (in press, September 2020). Commentary: Giving a voice to those with felony convictions: A call to action. Social Work.

McClendon, J., Lane, S.R., Ostrander, J. & Smith, T.R. (2020). Training social workers for political engagement: Exploring regional differences in the United States. Journal of Teaching in Social Work.

Hill, K., Lane, S.R., Powers, J. & Smith, T.R. (2019). From the Empire State to the North Star State: Voter engagement in the 2016 election. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 46(1), 91-112.

Lane, S.R. Hill, K., Ostrander, J., Powers, J., Smith, T.R. & Hylton, M.E. (2019). Creating a culture of voting in direct and generalist practice: Training field instructors. Advances in Social Work.

Hylton, M., Rhodes Smith, T., Powers, J., Ostrander, J. & Lane, S.R. (2018). The Power of Three: Infusing voter engagement in lower level BSW courses. Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work/

Lane, S.R., Ostrander, J.A. & Rhodes Smith, T. (2018). "Politics is social work with power": Training social workers for elected office. Social Work Education.

Ostrander, J., Lane, S.R., McClendon, J., Hayes, C. & Rhodes Smith, T. (2018). Collective power to create political change: Increasing the political efficacy and engagement of social workers. Journal of Policy Practice.

Ostrander, J.A., Bryan, J.K., Sandler, A.K., Nieman, P., Clark, M., Smith, T. R., Loveland, E. (2018). The Political Participation of First Year Social Work Students: Does Practice Specialization Matter? Submitted to The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare.

students at the Connecticut State Capitol building