Matt Watkins, IUPUI School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

At SPEA students are prepared to “address the issues of modern society in ways that more traditional schools overlook”. 

All too often policy makers and influencers fail to listen to the voices of those whom they are serving. If we wish to create stronger and more resilient communities, we must embrace a bottom-up approach, abandon our silos, and recognize that top-down decision making is not sustainable nor effective.

I am participating as a Challenge Champion on behalf of SPEA at IUPUI because I believe that it is our responsibility as a society to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to fulfill the promise of a better tomorrow. Community Innovate provides a unique opportunity for the Indianapolis community to work together to determine how we can collectively empower our youth – which begins with listening to and understanding the circumstances that children in Indianapolis are facing and ends with working with them side by side to tackle the issues and provide solutions.

It is my hope that I can assist all of you in your endeavors and help amplify the voices of the youth in our community, college students in Indianapolis, and advocacy groups throughout Indianapolis. 

I am currently an undergraduate student studying at SPEA at IUPUI majoring in Civic Leadership and Policy Studies. As a first-generation college student who has lived in similar circumstances as many of our youth in Indianapolis, I am familiar with the challenges that we face. I am not far removed from the youth – nor am I far away from those who work to influence change in a professional setting. 

It is my hope that I can help “bridge the gap” between youth and other Challenge Champion’s so that their voice may be amplified, represent college students in Indianapolis, and do whatever I can to support Community Innovate and its mission of empowering others through people-centered solutions. 


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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