It could have been a one-hit wonder, but when the National Multicultural Summit and Conference debuted in 1999 it was so popular that it's now a biennial event on how psychology can best serve our diverse nation. Among its successes, the conference has increased awareness of multicultural competence among practitioners and helped bring about APA's multicultural guidelines on education, research and practice. "A lot of people who attend that conference say it's one of the best meetings they go to," says Deborah Fish Ragin, PhD, co-chair of APA's Committee on Division/APA Relations (CODAPAR).
What many people don't realize is that the conference grew out of a unique APA program that encourages divisions to team up on projects that can advance the field. The Interdivisional Grants Program, created in 1998, offers grants to two or more APA divisions working on a joint project. APA committees or other groups can also sign on if the project includes at least two divisions. The Multicultural Summit sprang from a $5,000 grant given to four APA divisions—17 (Society of Counseling Psychology), 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues) and 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues).
Since the program started, APA has doubled its grant pool from $12,500 to $25,000 and CODAPAR is hoping to increase it further in the next few years. The program sparks tremendous creativity among divisions, says Ragin. "It's also an incentive to find new partners with common interests, to connect with divisions they may not have thought they would work with," she says.
Five interdivisional grants were awarded this year. Here's a wrap-up of their projects.
A pulse on diversity leadership
Divisions: 13 (Society of Consulting Psychology), 14 (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology), 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues), 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues) and 51 (Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity) Amount: $7,210
Today's business, government and education leaders come from a mix of backgrounds, but scant research addresses leadership from a diversity standpoint, says Lyne Desormeaux, PhD, of Div. 13 and Desormeaux Leadership Consulting, who is co-leading the project with Adelphi University professor of psychology Jean Lau Chin, EdD, of Div. 45. To get a more in-depth understanding of today's leaders, these divisions are inviting 20 representatives from different gender, racial, sexual orientation and cultural groups to attend a Diversity Leadership Summit to be held Jan. 16, in conjunction with the 2013 National Multicultural Conference and Summit in Houston, Jan. 17–18. Conference participants will discuss leadership styles, successes, challenges and more.
"We are not making any assumptions going into this. We want to create an open space and see what comes out of the discussion," says Desormeaux.
Psychology leaders will represent four attendees; leaders from business, government and other settings will fill the remaining slots. After the conference, the divisions plan to publish and promote their findings.
A one-stop geropsychology shop
Divisions: 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology), Section 2 (Society of Clinical Geropsychology) and 20 (Adult Development and Aging) Amount: $5,000
While older adults are the nation's fastest-growing age group, many new and seasoned psychologists have little geropsychology training or experience, says Erin Emery, PhD, president of the Society of Clinical Geropsychology. To help prepare the psychology workforce for these clients, the society is teaming with Div. 20 to create GeroCentral.org, an online clearinghouse of geropsychology resources that will go live in March. The site will feature an online tool for psychologists who want to expand their skills in geropsychology. The tool will also link visitors to websites and resources where they can get the training they need, and access the most relevant journal articles, webinars and books on geropsychology. GeroCentral.org will also list which doctoral programs and internship sites offer training in geropsychology.
"One of our biggest challenges will be keeping the site up to date, so we are linking to a lot of places where people are already keeping information current," says Emery.
Divisions: 31 (State, Provincial and Territorial Psychological Association Affairs) and 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice) Amount: $5,000
Less is more when it comes to psychologists' electronic records, but many psychologists have trouble paring down their notes and keeping them treatment-focused. To guide them on brevity—and keep them consistent with state and federal laws—Divs. 31 and 42 are creating electronic note-taking templates for each state.
"We want to make sure that psychologists' records are really useful to other team members," particularly in integrated-care settings, says University of Washington's Andy Benjamin, JD, PhD, president of Div. 31. The templates will feature decision trees to guide psychologists on the type of information to include in a patient's history, treatment and progress notes. The interdivisional grant money funded a law clerk who reviewed each state's statutes and rules and case law on psychologists' electronic health records. Members of Divs. 31 and 42 are donating an estimated $80,000 in time to complete the project. The templates will be available through state psychological associations later this year.
Promoting environmental justice
Divisions: 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues–SPSSI) and 34 (Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology) Amount: $4,130
Connected by similar interests in human and environmental well-being, Divs. 9 and 34 used their grant to host programming on environmental justice during SPSSI's 2012 Biennial Conference, held June 22–24 in Charlotte, N.C. It's a topic that needs far more research and attention from psychology, says Div. 34 President Janet Swim, PhD, of Penn State University.
"Climate change has become an ethical issue," says Swim. "Those countries most responsible for climate change—India, China and the United States—are not among those that are going to be impacted the most, such as many in Africa."
The divisions also brought in experts to speak at a pre-convention early career workshop on interdisciplinary applied careers in equity, environment and education justice. Speakers included energy conservation expert June Flora, of the Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute at Stanford University, and Vanderbilt University law professor Michael Vandenbergh, JD, who directs the school's Climate Change Research Network. The divisions awarded prizes to the top environmental justice projects presented at the meeting by early career psychologists and students. The winners are Scott R. Fisher, Ezra Markowitz, Ryan Pickering and David N. Somlo.
Strategies for student success
Divisions: 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues), 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues) and American Psychological Association of Graduate Students Amount: $3,660
It's not uncommon for students to leave the psychology field when the stress of graduate school becomes too much to handle. To help students stay on track, Divs. 35, 44 and 45 are using their grant to survey students about their greatest hurdles and how they cope with graduate school stress. Once they've analyzed the data, the researchers—all student representatives from the three divisions—will send participants self-care emails for eight weeks based on past research and how others have coped that are tailored to each student's particular stressors and concerns. After the email intervention, researchers will re-survey the students to see if they have upgraded their self-care habits.
"This study has the potential to provide important insights for our field because these are issues that are important in the retention and success of these students," says Mari Clements, PhD, of Fuller Theological Seminary, the project's faculty research advisor.
The divisions will publish the findings later this year and distribute them to students and psychologists through social media and listservs.
The deadline to submit a proposal for the 2013 Interdivisional Grants is Sept. 14.
For more information on the program, contact Division Services Communications Manager Chad Rummel in APA's Division Services Office at or visit Interdivisional Grants Project.