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NASW Foundation National Programs

Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial MSW Scholarship

The Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a master's degree candidate in social work who demonstrates an interest in or has experience with health/mental health practice and has a commitment to working in African American communities.  Scholarship recipients now work in hospitals, medical clinics, and social services agencies that provide treatment and specialized services to African American patients.

The scholarship is a memorial to Verne LaMarr Lyons, a social worker and NASW national staff member who died in 1989, while waiting for a heart transplant. Lyons committed his life to increasing awareness of pernicious health concerns affecting African Americans such as insufficient prenatal care, infant mortality, AIDS, cirrhosis, and general life expectancy.

With a generous grant from the New York Community Trust Robert and Ellen Popper Scholarship Fund, the NASW Foundation is pleased to announce SOCIAL WORK HEALS, a collaborative endeavor of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This grant will increase the annual funding from 4 scholarships in the amount of $4,150 each to 4 scholarships in the amount of $5,500 each (historically the Lyons Scholarships have been awarded based on projected annual earnings and contributions). The increased funding will raise the prestige/stature of the Lyons Scholarships and will allow for leadership development opportunities.


Four scholarships in the amount of $5,500 each will be awarded in the 2015-2016 academic year to MSW students who have interest and/or demonstrated ability in health/mental health practice and a commitment to working in African American communities.

A total of $4,000 will be disbursed directly to the recipient’s university. An additional $1,500 will be earmarked for each recipient for conference attendance and leadership development. As part of the Lyons Scholarship Award, the 2015 - 2016 recipients will be expected to attend conferences and/or leadership development activities. Expenses for conferences and professional development must be approved through the NASW Foundation and funds will not be distributed directly to the recipient.

To make a donation, click below. A panel reviews applicants and selects the award recipient.


2015-2016 Lyons Scholarship Award Recipients

Lyons previous award recipients

Verne LaMarr Lyons MSW Scholarship Guidelines



The open call for online applications for the 2016-2017 awards will begin in January 2016.

Refer to the award guidelines for eligibility criteria and requirements. 

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