Advocacy Scholars

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Do you want to...

  • Learn how government works and how you can affect it?
  • Work in communities to help solve social problems?
  • Advocate for rights, fair laws, and more just social policies?
  • Contribute to local and international efforts to help our poorest citizens?
  • Learn how to be an effective advocate for social change?
...then the MSU School of Social Work MSW ADVOCACY SCHOLARS Program is for you!


  • Receive a $5000 scholarship, which is renewable for a second year of study
  • Complete an Advanced Practice Year field placement focused on policy practice and advocacy skills development
  • Interact with social program and governmental officials
  • Participate in a seminar series led by policy advocacy leaders from diverse backgrounds
  • Learn about the legislative decision-making process from a professional lobbyist
  • Participate in a two-day bootcamp on how to run for political office
  • Receive individualized mentoring on education and career development from faculty members with related experience
  • Take advanced coursework in social activism and policy advocacy skills

This program provides cutting-edge training for the next generation of change agents dedicated to helping society solve difficult social problems. MSU School of Social Work faculty members possess a wealth of expertise in policy advocacy. With our close access to the State Capitol, ongoing relationships with over 500 social service agencies (both government and nonprofit advocacy organizations), leadership in new technology, and small class sizes, the School of Social Work is uniquely positioned to prepare you for effective advocacy practice.

Troy Rienstra and the Advocacy Scholars Program team

Here's the lineup of past Advocacy Scholars seminar series speakers:

  • 04/15/2020, Christine Boyle, City Councilor & Seth Klein, Activist/Author/Former Director of Public Policy Alternatives-British Columbia Office
  • 01/22/2020, Michele Corey, Vice President of Programs, Michigan’s Children
  • 12/04/2019, Ryan Bates, Executive Director, Michigan United
  • 10/09/2019, Algeria Wilson, Public Policy Director, National Association of Social Workers-Michigan
  • 09/11/2019, Paul Elam, Chief Strategy Officer, Michigan Institute for Public Health
  • 02/20/2019 - Katie Fahey, former Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians (Michigan's successful ballot initiative campaign against gerrymandering) and current Executive Director of The People
  • 01/30/2019 - Maria Ibarra-Frayre, Organizer, We the People, Michigan
  • 11/14/2018 - Sarida Scott, Executive Director, Community Development Advocates of Detroit
  • 10/17/2018 - Justin Hodge, past candidate for Washtenaw County Commissioner, Clinical Faculty University of Michigan School of Social Work
  • 09/12/2018 - Taryn Gal, Managing Director of Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH) & Student Leaders
  • 02/15/2018 - Troy Rienstra, Outreach Director, Citizen's Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS)
  • 01/18/2018 - Yousef Rabhi, 53rd District Michigan State Representative
  • 12/06/2017 - David D. Fukuzawa, Managing Director of Kresge's Health and Human Services Programs
  • 11/08/2017 - Ghida Dagher, Advocacy & Government Relations Manager, United Way for Southeastern Michigan
  • 10/18/2017 - Amy ZaagmanExecutive Director of the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health
  • 04/13/2017 - Karen Kavanaugh, MSW, Director of the Drug Safety Project, Pew Charitable Trusts
  • 03/23/2017 - Rosalynn Bliss, MSW, Mayor of Grand Rapids
  • 02/23/2017 - Lonnie Scott, Executive Director of Progress Michigan
  • 01/19/2017 - Rashida Tlaib, Manager of TAKE ON HATE advocacy campaign & Community Partnerships & Development Director for Sugar Law Center
  • 11/10/2016 - Stephanie Chang, MSW, current MI Representative

  • 10/27/2016 - Gilda Jacobs, President/CEO, Michigan League for Public Policy & former MI Representative

  • 09/22/2016 - Paul Elam, President of Public Policy Associates

To learn more, contact Dr. Sacha Klein [734-985-0548 or] or see the application instructions on our Advocacy Scholars Program flyer. Your applications to both the MSW and the ADVOCACY SCHOLARS Program must be received by January 10, 2023.