Ci'mone Rogers, Garcia Hope for Homelessness, scholarship, intern, Human Services Campus, Phoenix,

Garcia Scholarships interns join efforts at Human Services Campus to help those experiencing homelessness

By

Mark J. Scarp

Six ASU students – five of whom are enrolled in ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions – began work this fall as interns helping to ease the burdens of those experiencing homelessness. They are the recipients of the first-ever 2020-2021 Garcia Hope for Homelessness Scholarships.

The students are serving their internships, funded by a grant from the Garcia Family Foundation, at the Phoenix-based Human Services Campus, a collaborative force of partner organizations united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, the seven-acre campus’ 16 independent nonprofit organizations collaborate on a range of services and see nearly 1,000 individuals every day.

Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell is president of the HSC Board of Directors.

Each intern is receiving up to $5,000 in scholarship funding and the opportunity to apply his or her skills, education and passion to advance the HSC’s mission to end homelessness. During the 2020-2021 academic year, the students will work either full time for the fall semester only or part time for both the fall and spring semesters.

The scholarship recipients are: graduate students Reyna Avina, Lurissa Carbajal and Brooke Hulsizer and senior Trevor Southwick from the School of Social Work; Gracie Valdez, a graduate student in public administration in the School of Public Affairs; and Ci'mone Rogers, a junior studying information security in the W.P. Carey School of Business.

Founded in 1996 in Phoenix, the Garcia Family Foundation is committed to serving and solving the challenges of those living in poverty in Arizona. Over the last 20-plus years, its support has included aid for those experiencing homelessness, support for healthcare initiatives and assistance of all kinds for children in need. The foundation currently focuses on homelessness and the prevention of homelessness, and providing educational opportunities for high-achieving, disadvantaged students at the high school, technical and university levels, with a focus on strategic partnerships and collaboration across all program areas.

Action Nexus staff will supervise interns

Throughout their service, interns will be supported as a cohort, supervised by the staff of the Watts College Action Nexus, and will have access to a range of learning opportunities including supporting the collective impact of the HSC’s 16 partners.

The Action Nexus is an ASU-based team created to support the coordination of diverse social service agencies working together to end homelessness in Maricopa County. Based on the belief that a united effort can transform the Arizona system into a model for accomplishing the same nationwide, the Nexus’s role is to help “connect the dots” among the various coalitions across the Valley and mobilize ASU resources to enhance their efforts.

“We are fortunate to receive the generous scholarship gift from the Garcia Family Foundation to aid us in our quest to end homelessness,” said Shana Ellis, executive director of the Action Nexus. “We realize that our goal is even more challenging with an unstable job market due to COVID-19 that impacts income and housing.  Having students bring a fresh set of eyes and new energy to work on projects and solve problems will be a welcome addition to the amazing work already being done at the HSC.”

Students will work on projects at the HSC that aim to improve client outcomes by contributing to the efficacy of the HSC operations, advancing research and innovative solutions and working with staff to make their own unique contributions to ending homelessness in Arizona.

Priority projects for 2020 include: direct client services and assistance; and digital marketing, social media and storytelling, including website/online presence, branding/messaging and other communications.

HSC’s services to people experiencing homelessness include emergency shelter, food and basic necessities, medical and dental services, behavioral health support, employment services, housing placement and more. The primary placement for students will be in the Brian Garcia Welcome Center, working to develop housing plans with people seeking services to end homelessness.  

Applications for the annually granted scholarships, which are open to any ASU student, are due in the spring before the academic year of the internships. More information is available at actionnexus@asu.edu.

Duties to acquaint interns with service aspects

Interns will gain an overall understanding of the homeless service system, including direct client service, available resources, interventions and long-term solutions, funding sources and policy and regional planning. Throughout their service they will:

  • Assist clients in connecting or reconnecting with family, friends and opportunities for housing.
  • Assess clients’ barriers for housing and refer them to services for housing assistance.
  • Triage clients into appropriate services such as shelter, mental health support and crisis services.
  • Learn how to engage clients with motivational interviewing, trauma-informed care and crisis de-escalation.
  • Work closely with HSC staff providing outreach, engagement, crisis intervention and housing navigation services.
  • Share with clients a variety of services on the Human Services Campus and around Maricopa County that can empower them to return to safe, stable housing.
  • Work directly with the Welcome Center staff while engaging clients and learning about the Coordinated Entry System for clients seeking housing and shelter.

Photo: Garcia Hope for Homelessness Scholarships intern Ci’mone Rogers, a junior studying information security in the W.P. Carey School of Business, looks over donated items at the Human Services Campus (HSC)  in Phoenix. (Photo by Susan Wong, Watts College marketing communications)