SPEA students serve the city as interns for Indianapolis Mayor’s Office

Since he began attending SPEA IUPUI as an undergraduate in fall 2012, Andre Zhang Sonera has stayed busy participating in student organizations and completing three internships. In fall 2014, he served as an intern for the White House as part of SPEA’s Washington Leadership Program, and in summer 2015, he completed an internship at the New York Mayor’s Office of Operations. He also served as a Bicentennial/Operations intern for Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann in 2015-2016.

Now, as a Peterson Fellow, Zhang Sonera is responsible for coordinating the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office Internship Program for spring 2017. He credits his internship experiences for helping him understand what works well in an internship program.

“I wanted to bring that opportunity and experience to not only the students here at IUPUI but also to students who want to be in local government and gain their first introduction to public service,” he said.

The spring 2017 cohort consists of 10 graduate and undergraduate interns – all IUPUI students. Interns are placed in different departments within the Mayor’s Office, including Communications, the Office of Public Health and Safety, and others. (more…)

SPEA study finds heroin-related deaths may be significantly undercounted

Heroin overdose
A new study published in the Journal of Urban Health could have a significant impact on the way heroin overdose cases are counted and may dramatically increase the number of reported heroin-related deaths across the country.

Researchers at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI analyzed accidental opioid overdoses in Marion County, Indiana, from 2010 through 2015 and discovered that deaths where heroin was present may be significantly undercounted.

During the six-year study period, the IUPUI team examined the death certificates and toxicology reports for 1,199 accidental drug-overdose fatalities in Marion County and classified 455 as heroin-related. During the same time period, the Marion County Public Health Department recorded just 141 deaths caused by heroin.

“What happens a lot of times when people overdose is that they have multiple substances in their system,” said Brad Ray, an assistant professor at SPEA who studies substance abuse. “Because of the use of poly-drug codes to classify deaths when multiple drugs are present, we tend to undercount the prevalence of heroin in deaths because we usually count whether the death was a result of heroin rather than whether heroin was present.” (more…)

PPI study examines two-decade transformation of downtown Carmel

CARMEL – A comprehensive analysis by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute shows how two decades of public investment into Carmel’s central core has impacted the city and its taxpayers.

The benefits by the numbers are detailed in the PPI report, showing more private investment, more jobs, less vacant land, more employed persons, and more taxable assessed value have been realized.

The success of the redevelopment of its central core has helped cement Carmel’s national reputation as one of the country’s best suburbs. However, the PPI report does acknowledge that the project was not without disagreement over the development process and concern regarding Tax Increment Financing as a funding source, among other issues. (more…)

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. (more…)

Borst Fellow and MPA student Thomas Bray immersed in Indiana legislative process

Thomas BrayAs a senior at Fishers High School, Thomas Bray learned first-hand how to argue on behalf of the U.S. Constitution in front of a panel of legislators. His learning process was part of We the People, a national program that challenges elementary and high school students to participate in simulated congressional hearings.

“The We the People program made me realize that I was really passionate about public service and public affairs,” said Bray. “Even though this was not something I wanted to do specifically, the build-up was something that I found I was pretty good at – the research, the writing, the crafting, the paper that was as good to read as it is to speak. That was something that I really found both challenging and enjoyable.” (more…)