In this SHECP Talks episode, Dora Kreitzer talks with two other Bucknell University students, Lissandro Alvarado and Da’Mirah Vinson to discuss their SHECP Internships in Austin, Texas with Foundation Communities and Lisandro's second summer with SHECP as a Policy and Nonprofit Leadership intern. Foundation Communities provides affordable homes and free on-site support services for thousands of families, veterans, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. They offer community resources, like college application assistance, tax advice, healthcare, and housing.
During the episode, both Lissandro and Da'Mirah underline how their internships provided them with hands-on experience and a deeper comprehension of poverty-related issues. Da'Mirah recounts her time at Foundation Communities, where she engaged in community work and gained an appreciation for the significance of approaching social issues with empathy and a community-centric mindset. She reflects, "We work together to figure out solutions...I'm not here to fix anything. I'm just being in a community." Da'Mirah and Lissandro both expressed that their experiences have offered valuable insights into the kind of work they wish to pursue after graduation. Da'Mirah noted, "The internship showed me the mechanisms of a nonprofit and determined what I want and what I don’t want to do as my first career."
After gaining experience at Foundation Communities, Lissandro was a part of the Policy and Non-Profit Leadership Internship, spending this past summer in D.C. as an economic security analyst with the United Planning Organization (UPO). UPO supports Washington D.C.’s low-income residents on their journey to self-sufficiency. UPO currently offers more than 30 programs and services in such areas as early childhood education, youth development, job training and placement, health and wellness, housing, and volunteering. As an intern, Lissandro focused on the economic security for low-wage workers in the D.C. area. One important piece for Lissandro was being able to use his quantitative skills to understand poverty, merging data analytics major with his passion for poverty research. For Lissandro, being a part of SHECP again meant doing real policy work, “gaining the opportunity to present at the SHECP closing conference, and helping others interns who may be interested in the PNPL internship experience."
Dora also participated in the SHECP Internship Program last summer and worked with staff at Intersection of Change. "Intersection of Change is a community-based non-profit in Baltimore, MD founded in 1996 to address poverty-related challenges." During the episode, Dora reflects on how IOC's work really illustrated the difference between working for a community and working with a community. A community based model is one of the agency's top values --"We are an organization of and for our west Baltimore community that strives to affirm the dignity of all our residents by empowering them as participants, partners, and fellow leaders. We value the differences and commonalities that bring us together in our community." (intersectionofchange.org)
Austin, Washington D.C., and Baltimore all offered a lot of takeaways for both interns, and they hope that future SHECP interns try to get the most from this opportunity. Lissandro hopes future interns will remember – “Be meaningful during the internship: ask questions, be curious. There is always something to learn and be intentional in the work.”
Stay tuned for more engaging conversations on SHECP Talks as we explore the variety of experiences SHECP interns have, and the positive impact they create in their communities.
Want to know more about some of the agencies mentioned in the talk?
Foundation Communities: https://foundcom.org/
United Planning Organization: https://www.upo.org/
Intersection of Change: https://intersectionofchange.org
Interested in the Policy and Non-Profit Leadership internship?
Visit https://www.shepherdconsortium.org/policynonprofitleadership to learn more. The 2024 PNPL application will be available in late 2023. The internship is open to any rising-juniors and rising-seniors who have completed the traditional SHECP Internship. These internships will run concurrently with the traditional SHECP Internship. This new program has been made possible by funding from the Middlebury Conflict Transformation Collaborative.