InnovateGov Program



Read our Innovate Gov Brochure here

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, impactful, and equitable work on the city’s most critical social problems.

The Context: A Changing Detroit

Downtown Detroit is bursting with investment and energy: new developments, pro sports stadiums, high-end retail, 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 new ideas and the day-to-day experiences of residents – presents an immense challenge to the city’s civic leadership.

Our Mission

InnovateGov was launched in Summer 2015 in response to this challenge.  Over the last eight summers, we have embedded more than 184 MSU students from 17 academic units alongside key decision makers in 44 distinct Detroit civic organizations.  Our students provide the city’s civic leaders with the critical capacity and human capital necessary to tackle high-impact projects that help to build a thriving and equitable future for all Detroit residents.

Program Nuts and Bolts

  • The program runs for 10 weeks during the summer.
  • Faculty and staff work with civic partners to place students. 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 numerous non-profit and L3C organizations (e.g., Data Driven Detroit, Detroit Future City, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and Community Development Advocates of Detroit).
  • The program also provides students a bus or QLine pass (if not provided by the internship placement), and covers the cost of professionalization/cultural activities. In addition, the program offers several need-based scholarships to help 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.
  • Each Friday, students attend an exciting cultural, professional, recreational, or social event around the city.

Application and Contact Info

Complete the application on the College of Social Science Study Away website.  InnovateGov has no application fee but does charge a program fee (around $350) if you accepted into the program.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with a final deadline to apply of March 1. To learn more about the program, contact Chayse Hurley at