New SPEA course connects students to careers and leaders in community development

IUPUI students volunteer Day of Caring

By Marshawn Wolley, Director of of Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives

As part of SPEA’s long-standing commitment to community engagement and development, the school recently launched the Community Corps program. The innovative initiative aims to prepare the next generation of civic leaders while partnering with many of our community’s nonprofit, faith-based, and public organizations.

A newly-developed course – Indy Community Development Network – is the first of its kind on the IUPUI campus and will give students an introduction to many of the tools utilized in community development. The one-credit course (SPEA-V 450/35782) will be held from 9 a.m. to noon each Friday in February (Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24) and is open to students who have completed at least 60 hours of coursework.

SPEA students who participate in the class will be eligible to compete for one of three $5,000 PNC Community Development Fellowships that will support a paid internship at an organization where they can have maximum impact on community development initiatives in the city. As part of the university’s banded-tuition, students currently enrolled in at least 12 hours can take the class without incurring additional tuition fees.

In the course, students will learn about “people” and “place” community development strategies, residential and commercial development designed for social impact, as well as the city’s new approach to community development embodied in the Indianapolis Community Development Framework, a city-wide strategy developed by community development stakeholders. We will also wrestle with social policy issues including socioeconomic disparities, gentrification, and the role of social justice in thinking about communities.

Students will get to speak with leaders developing nationally recognized community development models doing their work right here in Indianapolis. A slate of guest speakers has already been booked for the course, including Emily Mack, who heads the Department of Metropolitan Developments for the City of Indianapolis. Students will get additional hands-on experience during the Feb. 17 class, which will meet at the John H. Boner Center.

Additionally, we’ll learn how nonprofit and business leaders develop residential or commercial properties for areas of a city or neighborhood to improve affordability and make areas more attractive for further investment. And we’ll hear how local social entrepreneurs are collaborating with communities to wrestle with its most pressing challenges by designing programs or community initiatives to enhance the quality of life for residents.

Come join me in discovering how you can make an impact on your community and how you can turn your passion for improving the community into your career.

I look forward to seeing you in class in February.


SPEA would like to thank our presenting donor PNC Foundation, as well as the following community partners who have also supported this effort:  BWI Contractors,  Downtown Indy,  Department of Metropolitan Development for the City of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center, Local Initiative Support Corporation,  IU Public Policy Institute,  Prosperity Indiana (formerly Indiana Association for Community Economic Development).