InnovateGov Service-Learning Internship

Nearly a year-and-a-half since a federal judge approved Detroit’s exit from bankruptcy, two parallel narratives mark the city’s recovery.  On the one hand, the downtown core thrives with new developments, growth, and hip coffee shops.  Yet, just blocks away, many neighborhoods continue to suffer the effects of a decades-long downward spiral.  This duality – the tension between bold, new ideas that envision a far different future from the city’s manufacturing past, and the conditions of longtime residents who are mostly lower income, in high majority non-white, and in many cases at risk of displacement due to foreclosures or unpaid water bills – presents an immense challenge to the city’s public, non-profit, and civic leadership.

The InnovateGov Service Learning Internship Program responds to this challenge by delivering much-needed capacity to the city’s core public and non-profit institutions, while providing MSU students with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about cutting-edge urban innovation by doing real work on some of the city’s most important problems.

The summer-long program is not facilitated, organized, or experienced like a normal class, service learning program, or internship.  It offers a customized, immersive experience where students live in Detroit for the summer and engage with the city through work, professional activities, and culture and entertainment events.

In this program MSU students:

  • Develop marketable skills and professional connections by working side-by-side with city, county, and non-governmental leaders in one of several of the city’s core institutions.  In summer 2016, these included the Mayor’s Office, City Finance Department, Detroit Future City, Wayne County Treasury, Data Driven Detroit, Wayne County Health, Veterans & Community Wellness, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation;
  • Work 30-35 hours per week aiding in the design and implementation of innovative approaches to Detroit’s most challenging problems.  In summer 2016, MSU students played a key role in changing the way the City of Detroit addresses a complex set of issues including small business development, property tax foreclosures, health and wellness inequities, land use and vacant lots, talent attraction and retention, income tax fraud and noncompliance, and neighborhood change;
  • Develop a “relationship” with Detroit by living, working, playing, and learning in the heart of the city;
  • Establish lasting and positive relationships with colleagues, professors, mentors and dozens of talented and motivated students and young professionals from across the university.

When: Summer

Program Dates: May 14th-July 20th

Eligibility: A 2.0 GPA is recommended but not required. There is no class standing requirement.

Courses: All students participating are required to enroll in PLS 422 (4 credits), an online-hybrid course that meets bi-weekly at various locations around the City of Detroit.  Students are also required to enroll in PLS 494 or the internship course for their respective major.  Credits for the internship course are variable and can reflect the student’s graduation requirements.

Housing: Housing is provided to students at no charge at Wayne State University's Atchison Hall

Program Fee: In the past, there has been no program or application fee.  In summer 2016, each student received a scholarship and 2 meals per day.

Application Process: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with February 15th as the final deadline.  Upon receipt of the application, students will be contacted for an interview. NO APPLICATION FEE.

For more information, please contact:

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




To make an appointment, please click here.

Please note when applying for this program there is no application fee and
no recommendation letter
is required.

Picture5.jpg   Picture2.jpg