Yale internships focus on community service

Altruistic Yalies hunting summer community service internships have a choice of several programs this year.

The Association of Yale Alumni Community Service Fellowship, the Dwight Hall Internship, and the President’s Fellowship offer stipends and placement in different community service hubs in New Haven and throughout the country for students seeking summer community service activities.

“I think Yale students are very civic-minded and are looking for opportunities like this,” said Lanch McCormick, assistant director of student programs at AYA. “They’re looking for opportunities for helping other people.”

The AYA Community Service Fellowship was started in 1989 after members of Yale College approached the Yale Corporation looking for full-time community service opportunities. Modeled after a similar program at Notre Dame, the eight-week program enlists the help of Yale alumni chapters around the country to strengthen ties between current Yale students and alumni and to increase awareness of local needs.

McCormick said the program allows students who are torn between financial and charitable considerations to earn money toward their financial aid package and to “meet their heart’s desire.”

The fellowship provides a $2,500 stipend and housing to students interested in working in communities all over the country. Former participants have worked in homeless shelters, human rights organizations, health centers and educational programs.

“It’s an opportunity to do community service while not forsaking summer job experience,” said Beth Dolinsky ’04, who helped teach physics last summer in Greenwich, Conn.

Another program, run out of Dwight Hall, offers students similar opportunities.

For over 30 years the Dwight Hall Internship, sponsored by Yale’s historical center of community service, has allowed students to create their own projects pertaining to social justice.

“The point is for Yale graduate and undergraduate students to take advantage of New Haven in an empowering way,” Dwight Hall Internship Coordinator Abigail Levine ’02 said. “You can really create your own summer.”

Applicants must formulate a project idea and find a nonprofit organization to sponsor them. Ten positions are available and Levine said around 20 students apply each year. Former participants have worked with Columbus House, the Fair Haven Community Health Center and the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project Food Pantry. The internship pays $375 per week or a lump sum of $3,000.

Yale President Richard Levin founded the President’s Fellowship in 1994 to offer Yale graduate and undergraduate seniors opportunities to help nonprofit and public-sector New Haven organizations boost economic and human development in the city and revitalize neighborhoods.

“We started that program the first year I was president to encourage the participation of students in the New Haven community,” Levin said.

Students may work from six to eight weeks and are offered a stipend of $400 per week if they are undergraduates and $450 per week if they are graduate or professional students. Applicants are selected from a pool of around 200 students; 35 to 45 students will be chosen this year. Participants are required to submit a description of their summer experience at the end of the summer.

Levin said the fellowship “has been a very successful program.”

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