InnovateGov - Detroit

InnovateGov Service-Learning Internship  - Inspiring leaders of tomorrow

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InnovateGov prepares and delivers MSU’s most vital resource – talented and motivated students – to Detroit’s civic institutions while providing our students with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to do real and impactful work on the city’s most critical social challenges to help to build a thriving and equitable future for all Detroit residents.


Learn more in our 2017 Impact Report


Since the InnovateGov program started, our students have worked in 29 different organizations and government agencies in Detroit. 

By supporting these partners, our students have contributed to projects that touch every neighborhood in the city.  Students worked on projects to improve services and respond to a wide range of pressing challenges in the city, such as: property vacancy, government fiscal stability, foreclosures, chronic absenteeism, water shut-offs, economic development, immigration, prisoner re-entry, and more.

Our students provide Detroit’s civic leaders with the critical capacity and human capital necessary to tackle high-impact projects. 


Program Details

  • The program runs for 10 weeks during the summer.
  • Faculty and staff work with civic partners to place students.  In 2017, our civic partners spanned more than a dozen local government departments (e.g., Detroit Public School Community District, Mayor’s Office, Department of Neighborhoods, Office of Immigrant Affairs, Department of Health) and eight non-profit and L3C organizations (e.g., Data Driven Detroit, Detroit Future City, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and Community Development Advocates of Detroit).
  • Students stay in Wayne State University (WSU) dorms at no charge to the student.
  • In previous years, students have received a combination of the following: need-based scholarship, WSU meal card, and resources to defray living, work, and transportation expenses.
  • Students take a 4 credit project-based research/writing course (PLS 422), plus 3-6 internship credits.  This is commensurate with a 30-35 hour workweek.
  • Faculty leaders work with students and their supervisors to achieve a common goal: the development and production of a deliverable – a high-impact project that improves upon the way our civic partners work on a difficult social, political, economic, or institutional challenge.
  • Student are paired with an MSU alumni mentor
  • Each Friday, students attend an exciting cultural, professional, recreational, or social event around the city.
  • The program runs from May 14th- July 20th
  • No recommendation letter is required.
  • There is no application fee.





Thank you to our supporters! 

ITC Supports InnovateGov so More Students Can Make an Impact


Since 2015, the program has grown each year to support a broader array of partners.

Partner Governments 

  • Detroit Public Schools Community District City of Detroit Buildings
  • Safety Engineering and Environment Department Water and Sewage Department
  • Department of Neighborhoods Office of Immigrant Affairs Lean Process Management
  • Office of Faith Based and Community Affairs Office of the Treasury
  • Income Tax Division Office of the Treasury
  • Property Tax Division Office of Grants Management Assessor’s Office
  • Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans & Community Wellness
  • Department of Treasury State of Michigan Michigan Office for New Americans

Nongovernmental Partners

  • Data Driven Detroit Detroit
  • Future City Detroit
  • Economic Growth Corporation
  • Chalkbeat Detroit
  • Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit
  • International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit Arab Community
  • Center for Economic and Social Services
  • Community Development Advocates of Detroit



Dan Casey-Dunn
Service Learning Coordinator
College of Social Science 
201 Berkey Hall
Sarah Reckhow
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
S. Kedzie Hall 306
Joshua Sapotichne
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
S. Kedzie Hall S310