Grant To Place Students At Nonprofits

September 29, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Calvin College is creating a new internship program with a four-year, $250,000 grant from the Detroit-based McGregor Fund.

The program, named Comenius Scholars after the 16th century education reformer, is a way for nonprofits to reap the benefits of student interns without having to pay their full stipend. The Comenius fund will pay 75 percent of the $1,045 stipend the students receive, making the nonprofit organization responsible for only about $260 for a one-semester internship. The interns will work about 10 to 15 hours a week, said Beth Cok, manager of experiential education.

“We were missing a great opportunity for students and also a real chance for the college to offer assistance to the nonprofits in the community,” she said.

The Comenius Scholars program is a combination of course work and an internship for credit. In the course work, the students will learn the skills needed to work for a nonprofit, such as volunteer management, strategic planning and marketing management. Supervisors from the nonprofits where the students do their internships will also be invited to attend the course to gain information.

“We wanted to set that up so it could be self-sustaining also,” she said. “We want the students who are working as interns to also help the nonprofit organizations to figure out some funding plans to be able to sustain the programs.

“The students will learn about fundraising and grant-writing as well,” Cok said.

While departments throughout the college have internship programs, Cok said some liberal arts students are left behind when it comes to work experience.

“The course will be open to students from a variety of academic departments, specifically liberal arts,” she said. “This gives a venue for students to actually try out work and see that the skills that they’re learning through their courses can be used in a job situation.”

Cok said it gives students a chance to reflect on the kind of work they would like to do, as well as where they would like to do it.

“We are looking for students who have an interest in a career in the nonprofit sector,” she said.

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