Great Lakes grant to help low-income liberal arts students land paid internships

December 10th 2014
Giving, Students
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The University of Wisconsin-Madison's College of Letters & Science has received a $150,000 Career Ready Internship grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation to help students with financial need reap the educational and career-boosting benefits of paid internships.

The award provides a significant boost to the L&S Career Initiative, which aims to help all UW-Madison liberal arts students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, says L&S Dean John Karl Scholz.

[caption id="attachment_15374" align="alignleft" width="140"]Scholz Scholz[/caption]

"Research continues to show the importance of internships in helping students launch their careers after graduation," he says. "When internships are unpaid, students who can't afford to work for free miss the chance to gain a competitive edge in the job market. This grant will help us provide more paid internship offerings to students with financial needs."

The L&S Center for Academic Excellence, which helps first-generation, low-income, and multicultural underrepresented students reach their academic potential, will administer the Great Lakes grant. An ongoing partnership between CAE and Inroads, a nonprofit that helps prepare underserved youth for corporate and community leadership, helped land the grant. L&S Career Services, which runs an internship course and an internship scholarship program, was also integral in securing the funding.

Through the Great Lakes grant, CAE and Inroads will collaborate with local businesses and nonprofits to develop new paid internships and convert existing unpaid internships into paid opportunities. These new internships will give juniors and seniors with any level of financial need real-world experience within their field of study, and a better chance at competing with their wealthier peers for jobs after graduation.

[caption id="attachment_15376" align="alignright" width="140"]Wilson Wilson[/caption]

"An internship can spark a young person's interest in a career in Wisconsin, where they can have an impact, as a leader, for a long time to come," says Assistant Dean DeVon Wilson, who leads CAE.

Great Lakes found that participating in an internship did more than just provide these students with a paycheck; it improved their odds of progressing toward college completion. In fact, 98 percent of interns either re-enrolled the next semester or graduated.

"Career Ready Internship grants help level the playing field for students who receive financial aid," says Richard D. George, Great Lakes' president and chief executive officer.