Sunday, July 26, 2009

From University-Sponsored Nonprofit Internships to Student-Created University Programs -- making change possible

In reading about Princeton Project 55, an organization of Princeton Alums from the Class of 1955 that helps current Princeton students find paid summer internships (paid by the host organization, not Princeton) with non-profit organizations, including health insurance, I came across some interesting info --

There's a network of universities nationwide, called The Alumni Network (TAN), that collaborate to create these nonprofit internship programs for their undergraduate students and recent graduates.

The programs are all structured differently - in some cases the funding comes from the alumni clubs, in some cases from the host organizations, in some cases from the universities, and in some cases the internships are unpaid. Some of the programs provide alumni mentors. Some provide seminars for students and networking opportunities in their host city. Some of the programs provide interested students with a list of host organizations, in at least some cases thanks to alums who work at these organizations. Some allow students to select their host organizations themselves, and then submit all of the details to receive sponsorship by the university's program.

At Colorado College, the students who were selected to participate in summer internships are profiled on the college's website. I like this touch.

Regarding student profiles --

At Northwestern, an alum of the Northwestern University Public Interest Program, Nathaniel Whittemore, co-founded the awesome organization Just Naïve Enough Global Capacity Initiative with Jonathan Marino, a co-founder of the Northwestern University Public Interest Program in 2005, while the two were still undergraduates. The organization aims to make “globally conscious American undergraduates globally capable.”

Jon Marino graduated in 2006 from the School of Education and Social Policy. As an undergrad, Marino led the External Relations Committee of the Associated Student Government, started the Northwestern Community Building Initiative, NU Public Interest Program, and Global Engagement Summit, and served on the board of Connections for the Homeless in Evanston. Since graduating, Marino has coordinated programs for the Chicago Public Schools Service-Learning Initiative on a NUPIP Fellowship and started the ENGAGE Uganda study abroad program at Northwestern. For the past year, he has been in Uganda on a Fulbright Scholarship to study education opportunities in displaced communities.

While an undergrad, Nathaniel Whittemore spent 3 months touring the Balkans, the West Bank and Middle East, and East Africa on a Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences research grant to assess the status of student international volunteering. “It confirmed my suspicion that there are a lot of young people from a lot of places who want to explore international issues,” said Whittemore. “But unskilled volunteers can only do so much.” Far too often, Whittemore found, their work, while dedicated, wasn’t actually helping to create change.

Photo: Jonathan Marino gets his hair braided by students at a school in Kayamundi, South Africa.

Photo: Nathaniel Whittemore's international efforts included work on the OpenShutter Project, a collection of photos, drawings, film and writings, inspired by his time in Uganda.

Nathaniel and Jonathan organized a 4-day conference, the International Youth Volunteerism Summit, to teach students fundraising and grant writing, engaging local populations and interfaith communication, in order to provide students interested in international volunteering with the knowledge and tools necessary to create effective and lasting changes. The conference was attended by about 75 student delegates representing almost 30 U.S. universities and 20 countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Yemen, as well as panelists from an assortment of nongovernmental organizations. The delegates were selected based on applications and project proposals, which ranged from a documentary on Tibetan children to educational programs in Ecuador.

After graduation, Nathaniel returned to Northwestern to run the organization through Northwestern's Center for International and Comparative Studies. “This program is a possibility for Northwestern to take a leadership role in [a field] that will be growing in the next several years,” said Andrew Wachtel, director of CICS and dean of the Graduate School.

One of the 2008 -2009 Fellows worked on ENGAGE Uganda, one of the programs founded by Jon Marino:

Ryan Pederson (Northwestern University Center for Global Engagement)

Ryan Pederson will work as Co-Director for the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) at Northwestern University (NU). Over the summer he is helping to coordinate the Engage Uganda study abroad program, which places 20 students with host organizations to complete a small development project in teams of five. When back in Evanston, he will help with the CGE's development of a Global Engagement Summer Institute, which will expand the Engage program to Uganda, India, Egypt, and Latin America. He will also help to advise the Global Engagement Summit, consult on student social entrepreneurship projects, and advocate for further institutional commitment to global engagement at NU. He is excited to set up experiences for other students that he found personally transforming. Ryan grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and studied economics and international studies at NU. On campus he was heavily involved in leadership in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Global Engagement Summit. He spent his summers working on projects in China and Uganda and did research in Uganda on the life stories of community leaders. Ryan loves to play tennis and basketball in his free time and, long term, hopes to integrate his passions for ministry and international development.

OK - things always circle back ...

While looking for additional information about the Northwestern programs above, I discovered that Nathaniel blogs over at's Social Entrepreneurship blog.

He even gave the keynote speech at the Global Engagement Summit 2009. The event is an entirely student-run, week-long training program for young social innovators from around the world.

The Global Engagement Summit began in 2005 as an attempt to develop better training for students participating in on-the-ground international development and social entrepreneurship, to put driven students in touch with one another and with innovative nonprofit leaders, and to develop a resource network to support student global change projects.

In its three years, a staff of between 60-90 Northwestern University students per year has developed a curriculum featuring more than 40 workshops each year and has created numerous opportunities for project support, including, among others, internship experiences, media outlets and funding prospects through partnerships with groups like the GlobalGiving Foundation.

The GES alumni community now includes more than 400 people. Even as GES has grown, the GES founders were able to expand the idea and build a the Center for Global Engagement, a global program design center at Northwestern University which now offers credited international immersion programs.

Taken from Nathaniel's keynote:

This is our legacy. This is our story. Every day I meet older people, family, friends, mentors, absolutely stunned by how young the members of our movement are. They're so used to the old, tired trade off between passion and selling out; they're used to idealism deferred. They often feel, to quote Bob Dylan, that "People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent." But cynicism has gone out of fashion, and they're looking to us for leadership. The moment is ours to create.

Our obligation is to find our passion, and to unleash the passion of others. Our responsibility is to remember that systems of oppression were created by people, and so too can people undo them. Our hope is to never stop believing that we can change the world, because we must.

During his keynote he also referenced previous summit attendees, including:

Caitlin Cohen, a student from Brown who has spent the last four years since the very first GES forging alliances between communities, international nonprofits, and the government to create a comprehensive, citizen-led health system in Sikoro, Mali. People like Rolf Garcia-Gallont, a Guatemalan student at Duke who returned to his home country after graduation in order to help train entrepreneurs how to fully harness microcredit to unleash their own potential. People like Hany Amin, who's brother Ramy joins us this year, who sees the very best potential of Egypt, that confusing place where my own journey started, and is working to build equitable health access for the poor.

Absolutely phenomenal.

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