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Great Lakes Shares Lessons Learned from 2014-2015 Career Ready Internship Grant Partners

Funding Paid Internships for Low-Income Students Narrows the Experience and Employment Equity Gap

—Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation believes students truly realize the value of their college degrees only after they put them to work. That's why Great Lakes created Career Ready Internship grants, and why it's now releasing a report on lessons learned from the 2014-2015 grant period.

"We've seen that paid internships can have a significant impact on students with financial need," said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. "By sharing the best practices gleaned from our grant partners, we hope more colleges will invest in their students—and their communities—by making paid internships a reality."

Following a small-scale pilot in 2013, Great Lakes expanded its Career Ready Internship Grant program in 2014 with a one-year, $5.2 million commitment to 40 colleges and universities in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The colleges collaborated with businesses and nonprofit organizations with the goal of creating 2,200 paid internships for their students with demonstrated financial need. Ultimately, 2,376 students participated in paid internships.

The objective of this grant program was twofold: leverage paid internships so that juniors and seniors gain valuable experience in their fields of study and move closer to their future career goals, and at the same time, level the playing field between students who can’t afford to take unpaid internships and their wealthier peers.

Feedback from the colleges throughout the 2014-2015 grant period proved insightful. Not only do students understand the value of internships, but these experiences help keep them on track to completion. In fact, a reported 97 percent of participating students either re-enrolled the next semester or graduated. It also became clear that colleges and employers are ready to work together—for the good of all involved.

Great Lakes aims to share lessons learned during the grant period with colleges nationwide by releasing a collection of best practices gleaned from its 2014-2015 Career Ready Internship Grant partners. Highlights include how to successfully administer a paid internship program, how to collaborate with business partners, and how to best serve students with financial need. Visit community.mygreatlakes.org to read the full report.


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