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The History of SPI

The Social Policy Institute (SPI) is a nonprofit affiliate of the School of Social Work at San Diego State University. Our mission is to bridge academia with government, business, and the community to increase individual, family and community well-being. 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.


  • 2014 New Leadership Steve Hornberger activates SPI


  • 2017 IHSS Transformation SPI completes development of an integrated learning system for the statewide In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Training Academy
  • 2017 Board Fellows receives Provost Award for Excellence SPI developed Board Fellows as a collaboration between SDSU’s School of Social Work and Fowler Business School to build capacity in local non-profit Board of Directors


  • 2019 – Livable La Mesa Action Plan approved by City Council SPI provided technical assistance to the city of La Mesa to help them achieve the milestones to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities


  • 2020 – SPI becomes ACEs Aware Grantee for Communications and Network of Care
  • 2020 –Child & Family Wellness Landscape completed for Partners in Prevention
  • 2020 – SPI becomes a finalist in SDSU’s BIG IDEA challenge
  • 2020 – SPI develops and implements the Faith-based and Behavioral Health Training Academy for Stepping Higher, Inc.
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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