Boston University School of Social Work Faculty Receive Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Contact: Kira Jastive, 617-358-1240 |

(Boston) – Boston University School of Social Work today announced that two of its faculty members have received grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The one-year grants were awarded through RWJF’s New Connections Initiative: Bringing Diversity to RWJF Grantmaking and Increasing Secondary Data Analysis program, which seeks to bring the Foundation a broader perspective in its program planning and design.

Assistant Professor Marah A. Curtis and Assistant Professor Sunny Hyucksun Shin, the principle investigators, are two of 12 research professionals selected nationwide to help the Foundation solve the most pressing health and health care problems facing our country.

Assistant Professor Marah A. Curtis has a grant of $55,000 to examine the effect of incarceration on fathers’ health utilizing the nationally representative Fragile Families and Child Well-Being dataset.

Curtis explains that, “Health is a vital component in family well-being often overlooked for low-income, urban fathers. Labor market opportunities, parenting tasks, and familial living all are impacted by the ability of both parents to function in their assigned roles. Fathers with poor health are more likely to have labor market difficulties and excessive expenses and may be forced to make trade-offs between medications and other goods.”

“These fathers,” she continues, “are often part of vulnerable families and communities with little resources who are also eligible for very few, if any, public benefits. Understanding the effects of incarceration on the health of a mostly low-income group of urban fathers will provide policy relevant information about a particularly vulnerable, often underserved population.”

Assistant Professor Sunny Hyucksun Shin also has received a grant of $55,000 to examine the effect of family cultural values on maltreated children’s use of mental health services.

Shin notes that “the United States is observing a rapid growth in racial and ethnic minority Americans. Current projections show that by 2025, racial and ethnic minorities will account for more than 40% of all Americans. The Surgeon General reported that since this segment of the overall U.S. population is growing quickly, our healthcare system faces new challenges to keep pace with the diverse needs of these groups.”

“Barriers to accessing mental health care constitute a more significant problem for ethnic minority children than for Caucasian children,” explains Shin. “Specifically, this is a significant problem for minority children involved with the child welfare system. The long-range goal of the RWJF research project is to identify potential solutions for reducing racial and ethnic disparities in access to mental health services by maltreated children.”

“New Connections enables the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to identify new talent all over the country and to directly connect them to the Foundation’s work,” said Debra Joy Perez, Ph.D., RWJF research and evaluation officer. “Ultimately, our goal is to expand our impact in the communities we serve, and we think Marah A. Curtis’s and Sunny Hyucksun Shin’s project will play an essential role.”

New Connections is a competitive award for scholars who have historically been underrepresented in research activities. For more information about The New Connections Initiative, go to

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit

The School of Social Work at Boston University is one of the oldest schools of social work in the country and is known for its research and training in the areas of substance abuse, gerontology, health and mental health, and children and youth, and for the involvement of its faculty in community-based projects.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU contains 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.