The Social Policy Institute

The Social Policy Institute (SPI) is a nonprofit affiliate of the School of Social Work at San Diego State University. We strive to be a dynamic catalyst for improving the community’s well-being by bridging academia and community knowledge through training, technical assistance, program design, research, advocacy, and collaboration.

At the Social Policy Institute, we believe that community members should have access to the services, supports and resources necessary to actively participate, experience a sense of belonging, and have opportunities to achieve their aspirations. However, we know that no one “system” has the mandate, resources or reach to address both individual/family issues and the larger social problems that exacerbate adverse consequences such as poverty, racism, inadequate housing/homelessness, poor schools, crime, and racial and ethnic disparities.
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Our Mission: To bridge academia with government, business, and the community to increase individual, family and community well-being.

Our Vision: Across the lifespan, everyone is safe, educated, healthy and well; with a sense of belonging, purpose, and opportunity to achieve their aspirations.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to accomplish our vision and mission by:

  • Challenging ourselves to excellence in what we do.
  • Learning to be ever more effective.
  • Engaging others with respect and collaboration.
  • Focusing on innovation and impact with data.
  • Raising awareness and advocacy for social justice.
  • Strengthening community relationships and belonging.
  • Working to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities.
Social Policy Institute


SPI's Executive Leadership brings subject matter expertise in their respective fields as well as a combined track record for innovation and quality.

Steve Hornberger

Steve Hornberger is the Co-Director of the Social Policy Institute (SPI) since 2014 administering a number of statewide contracts.

Lori Clarke

As Co-Director, Lori brings innovation and excellence to design/development and facilitation of insight and action.

Stories of Success

What Our Partners Say

Elizabeth Estes

“The Social Policy Institute’s Director, Steve Hornberger, has been an integral part of Breaking Barriers development and implementation. The Social Policy Institute team has brought excellence and innovation to support Breaking Barriers’ work across systems to increase and enhance the well-being of California’s children and youth.”

Elizabeth Estes

Founder, Breaking Barriers
Robin Jenkins

“San Diego State University’s Social Policy Institute has been a highly valued partner for the State of California and an array of organizations seeking to effectively translate evidence-supported science into well-designed public policies for broad social benefits. One example is through our National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives and SDSU collaborations. As well, SPI’s work with county-level Prevention teams and their articulation of best practices with and for Child Abuse Prevention Councils across the state of California has been impressive.”

Robin Jenkins

Associate Director, The Impact Center, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
Dr. Rachelle Benson

“The entire team at the Social Policy Institute brought subject matter expertise and cultural humility to the revision and redesign of our Faith-based and Behavioral Health Training Academy! Our trainers appreciated the validation for what they already know and can do; coaching to raise their game to a higher level of performance; and the high-quality, evidence-based materials.”

Dr. Rachelle Benson

Vice President, Stepping Higher Inc.
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