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Interns with Impact

Service-minded undergraduates who want to intern at Baltimore non-profits and government agencies this summer can now get paid to do so—at no cost to those organizations—thanks to the new Johns Hopkins Community Impact Internships program.

Launched with a $1.25 million gift from an anonymous donor, the program will enable the students to earn up to $5,000 while gaining real-world work experience through social outreach. At the same time, the nonprofits, many of which have struggled to make ends meet in these lean financial times, will benefit from the extra hands of Johns Hopkins students to help them advance their missions.

Student interest in the internship program has been overwhelming, says Bill Tiefenwerth, director of the university’s Center for Social Concern, which will oversee the program. More than 200 students applied for the 25 spots available this summer. The program is funded to accommodate 50 undergraduates in Summer 2012, and each year thereafter.

“Students really want to get to know Baltimore but have few opportunities to do summer service-oriented initiatives, feed themselves, and pay rent at the same time,” says Tiefenwerth. “It’s a double gift,” he adds. “Obviously it’s a gift to students who want to work for Baltimore nonprofits, and I know that our partner agencies will be happy to use the talent of Johns Hopkins students to help advance their missions.”

The program is open to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Student interns will work 30 hours each week in venues to be determined throughout the city, based on students’ interests. During the application process, students will specify their top three choices for placement in the categories of education, local government, criminal justice, health care and health policy, environment/sustainability, neighborhood/community improvement, and women, children, and family issues.

“This program is student-centric in the sense that we are trying to match their interests as closely as possible,” Tiefenwerth says, so the partner agencies will reflect students’ choices and strengths. At press time, participating organizations included the Citizens Planning and Housing Association; Shepherd’s Clinic; Office of the Public Defender; Jobs, Housing and Recovery; Power Inside; and Parks and People Foundation.

The program is set to begin May 31, with a week of orientation programming that will include speakers who are major players on the Baltimore nonprofit scene. As part of their assignments, the interns will gather for weekly reflection sessions. The internships end July 30 with a two-hour evaluation session. The work schedule will allow the student interns to take a summer course if they choose.