IUPUI’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) Capstone Program

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SOURCE RW takes an active role in the economic development of the Near West (NW) through its involvement on the NW’s Opportunity Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of NW residents and volunteers seeking to strengthen the viability of the Near West business community and connect merchants with business education and services provided by SOURCE RW.


SOURCE RW is excited to announce that our NW Opportunity Project proposal was accepted by the students in the Fall 2018 SPEA Graduate Capstone Class. IUPUI’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) Capstone Program provides Graduate students in their last year with the opportunity to share their expertise with the community by tackling real-world challenges. These students are learning how to work in government, nonprofit, and business roles to make positive changes in their communities.

Formally titled Development of Near West Merchant Alliance and Enhancement of Resident Patronage, our Project will focus on enhancing the shopping/purchasing relationship with and between Near West merchants and residents. The Project encompasses identifying and engaging merchants within the Near West to work with one another and increasing resident patronage. While an out-of-date NW merchant database exists, there is limited cooperation with and between merchants, and a perception that NW residents do not frequent NW merchants on a regular basis. Students’ efforts will include interviewing key merchants from each of the three corridors (Michigan, Washington and 16th Streets) to determine viability, interest, and input.

At the end of the Project, the Capstone students should provide the NW Opportunity Task Force with:   

1) a comprehensive list of Near West businesses encompassing the three major commercial corridors (Michigan, Washington and 16th Street), 

2) a list of identifiable models of and recommendations for a merchant’s association and/or programming to build merchant/resident relations and increase patronage, and

3) a roll-out strategy that includes connecting merchants to Near West residents.

SPEA students “win” too by developing the practical skills that prepare them for careers and to enhance their ability to craft solutions to society's problems. Student projects not only will produce useful knowledge but provide students with meaningful learning experiences and the opportunity to apply their education directly to community issues. We look forward to the Capstone results as we conclude the semester.