Local Nonprofit Provides Internships for Underprivileged Young Adults By Jackie Schatell
ummit resident Andrew Walker has launched Eleven+ (Elevate to Even Plus), a start-up nonprofit that is dedicated to placing young adults from disenfranchised communities into paid internships with nonprofits. The business funds hosting organizations for the cost of the internships, so students get meaningful paid opportunities that they would not ordinarily have access to. “The nonprofits benefit from the students’ skills and contributions, while championing an important diversity initiative—without “taking a hit to their operating budgets,” says Andrew. Andrew says he was “spurred into action by the Black Lives Matter movement and was inspired to provide these students with opportunities that could change the trajectory or their lives.” He says, “There are more than 30,000 nonprofit organizations in New Jersey, and many provide unpaid internships.” He believes that “many more would likely hire interns if they had easier access to promising talent.” “Internships provide valuable work experiences as well as opportunities for skill-building and networking that can improve prospects in education, work, and life for the participating students,” says Andrew. “However, unpaid internships actually perpetuate inequality because the students who might most benefit from the experience cannot afford to work for free.”
Interns must demonstrate they are of color, that they come from a low-income background, and must demonstrate achievement in academics or in community outreach.
Eleven+ sources talented intern candidates through local school alumni networks and partnerships including Summit High, Uncommon Schools, and KIPP Newark graduates, and enrichment programs (e.g. PEP Program, STAR). In addition, to ensure success, each intern is paired with a mentor to help them acclimate and when they have questions or concerns. “Having a mentor helps the interns to have a meaningful working experience,” says Andrew. The business also plans seminars with role models and provides job readiness content. Eleven+ also helps make sure that interns have appropriate work attire and transportation to and from work.
Last summer Eleven+ partnered with seven local non-profits and funded 10 student interns. For this summer, Eleven+ has identified over 40 + opportunities between Newark and Morristown, including many local organizations like ReevesReed Arboretum, Vivid Stage, The Connection, Grow It Green, Family Promise, Dress for Success, Museum of Early Arts & Crafts, Sage Eldercare, Summit Y, the Summit Housing Authority, and the Discovery Orchestra. Eleven+ funds an average of $4,500 per student. Donor contributions are welcome and according to Andrew “are an investment in smart, motivated students giving them access to a transformative, paid internships that can change their lives.” Donations fund salaries, work attire and supplies, transportation to and from work, and more. To donate go to www.eleven-plus.org.
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