Many cities in Michigan are challenged by insufficient resources and increasingly high expectations from their residents. City and county leaders, community advocates, and non-profit organizations may attempt to meet those demands, yet lack the resources or time to design and see these innovations through the policy process. The goal of the InnovateGov Internship Program is to place MSU students in these organizations to help deliver and assist with these demands, while also providing our students with an opportunity to do real work on public problems.
One of these students was Elizabeth Raczkowski. Elizabeth graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science and an additional major in Political Science. While an undergraduate student, she worked as an assistant in an accounting office and wrote freelance articles and other content for business and other websites, including human resource consultants.
For her InnovateGov internship, Elizabeth worked for the Wayne County Treasury Office. The Treasury Office is responsible for collecting delinquent taxes for all the township, villages, and cities in Wayne County. In 2016, an estimated 60,000-70,000 properties are at risk of foreclosure; roughly one-third of those properties are owner or tenant occupied. They are also responsible for foreclosing on tax delinquent properties and administering payment plans that allow people to pay delinquent taxes in installments to avoid foreclosure. Working closely with five other interns, the Wayne County Treasury team developed new outreach methods for the office to inform people about delinquent taxes, payment plans, foreclosures, and other important information. The interns met with residents and many people from community groups, businesses, and offices to better understand community needs and how to make outreach more effective.
Throughout her experience with InnovateGov, Elizabeth learned a lot about how communication and lack of communication between different government offices and interested public groups can affect policy decisions. She also learned the importance of getting outside perspectives on problems and strategies so governments get a more complete and accurate picture. When she graduates, Elizabeth would like to work on problems that affect local governments. She is especially interested in policies that affect equitable economic development, particularly the planning and implementation process. She hopes to use the quantitative skills she has gained in the MPP program, along with her experiences working with people, to contribute to helping communities improve their ability to provide for their residents.