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.


Social Policy Institute activated under new Leadership – Steve Hornberger, NASW Pioneer, SDSU Faculty

  • SPI transforms In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) curriculum for county social workers and rolls out the Training Academy across the state
  • SPI partners with the CAP Center (Sacramento) and Children’s Bureau (Los Angeles) to become the new Strategies 2.0, a statewide collaborative, building capacity for the Family Strengthening field
  • SPI is part of design team for Breaking Barriers Toolkit for building a system of care: Shared Governance, Shared Data, Shared Finance and Shared Community
  • California Child Welfare Council adopts Operations Manual developed by SPI
  • Priority Access to Services and Supports (PASS) Beta test in Ventura County is a success, exceeding expectations
  • Statewide Disability Awareness training features IHSS Partners as Co-Presenters
  • SPI implements an integrated learning system for the statewide IHSS Training Academy
  • Board Fellows, developed and led by SPI as a collaboration between SDSU’s School of Social Work and Fowler Business School to build capacity in local non-profit Board of Directors, receives Provost Award for Excellence
  • Livable La Mesa Action Plan, a result of SPI’s technical assistance to the City of La Mesa, is approved by City Council
  • San Diego Age-Friendly Communities Initiative launched
  • Strategies 2.0 Statewide Integrated Learning System completed with final report showing evidence of increased knowledge, newly acquired skills, and renewed motivation.
  • Project Launch of BeHealth is using a human-centered design (HCD) approach to innovating behavioral health
  • Building Community Resilience Toolkit 4-part series launched by SPI
  • SPI launches ACEs Aware for Communications and Network of Care in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics – Chapter 3 and the YMCA of San Diego
  • SPI completes and released the Child & Family Wellness Landscape Scan completed for Partners in Prevention
  • SPI develops and publishes the Best Practice Guidelines for CAPCs (Child Abuse Prevention Councils)
  • SPI becomes a finalist in SDSU’s BIG Idea challenge
  • SPI develops and implements the Faith-based Behavioral Health Training Academy for Stepping Higher, Inc.
  • Under SPI’s leadership, SDSU joins the international network of Age-Friendly Universities (AFUs)
  • Based on the BIG Idea, the Center of Excellence for Aging & Longevity (CEAL) becomes reality
  • Learnings from SPI’s ACEs Aware Network of Care project are integrated into the county-wide Partners in Prevention collaborative
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.


6505 Alvarado Road, Suite 209
San Diego, CA 92120

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