Summer Interns Making an Impact

Park Pride has two summer interns working to help imagine the future of Four Corners Park in Atlanta’s Peoplestown neighborhood

June 09, 2023, 2:06pm EDT

ATLANTA, Ga. ­—  Students in the fifth cohort of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation’s (Partnership) Summer Internship program, formerly Smart Community Corps, are working on public innovation projects that address some of the most important civic challenges facing our state — and are branching out to solve challenges in other states, as well. Park Pride is hosting two of these interns to work in partnership with the Peoplestown community to plan the future of Four Corners Park.

The Summer Internship is a program under the Student Engagement pillar of the Partnership, which is a statewide public-private collaboration housed at Georgia Tech to promote innovations that drive inclusion and growth to build economic mobility for a more resilient and equitable future. The internship program is designed to foster the next generation of innovators by providing civic-minded college students, both undergraduate and graduate, from across the nation with hands-on experience working on real-life problems supporting innovation work to create livable and equitable communities.

This year’s cohort of 62 summer interns includes students from as far away as Oregon and Illinois and projects in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., as well as in Georgia. The 35 host sites for 2023, represent city and county governments, higher education, nonprofit agencies, civic and minority-serving organizations, incubators, and startups.

“For 50 years, Four Corners Park and the Rick McDevitt Youth Center have been the heart of the Peoplestown community, providing support and education for everyone in the community,” Andrew White, Park Pride’s director of park visioning said. “Despite rapid community growth, the park has attracted minimal investment. Park Pride is delighted to host the Partnership interns to develop a community engagement strategy with the Friends of Peoplestown Parks!”

“The 2023 Summer Internship cohort is the largest, most competitive, most geographically diverse cohort the Partnership has had,” said Cody Cocchi, the Partnership’s student engagement manager. “This cohort will have the most significant impact across the state of any of our previous cohorts. This class represents a diverse group of higher ed students from 25 universities, 8 states, and 14 countries.”

This project appealed to Partnership interns Ornela Gjoni and Nadya Pramaputri, both students in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s master of city and regional planning program. “I’m most thrilled about the opportunity to empower communities to engage and make a positive difference in their neighborhood parks,” said Pramaputri. “By harnessing the collective enthusiasm and ideas within these communities, we can create a participatory culture that encourages everyone to take ownership and actively contribute to the enhancement of their local parks.”

“Being part of the visioning team gives me the opportunity to be part of a group of people who work towards making a lasting change for the community. It is exciting to generate design solutions that are responsive to people’s needs and desires, which will ultimately have a positive impact on their lives,” Gjoni added.

Public innovation and civic technologies projects such as this one are important to a broad swath of people, from the interns to the project site representatives to the people who live in the communities where the projects are based.

These paid internships continue through the summer, with a wrap up program in August, when students will present the findings from their work.

About the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation: Launched in 2020, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation is a public-private organization created to spearhead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the leader for innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success. The Partnership’s focus pillars of community research, workforce development, student engagement, and economic opportunity are a powerful combination that provide technical and financial support to democratize innovation through collaboration. Since 2020, the Partnership’s work has catalyzed 30+ projects with local governments, universities, startups, and nonprofits. The projects have created new businesses, increased access to financial and social capital, and deployed more than 170 technologies. More information is available at pingeorgia.org.

This article was written by Péralte Paul and edited by Karen Kirkpatrick.

Area near The Rick McDevitt Youth Center
Picture of greenery
Picture of greenery

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