Fighting Social Inequality For College Students
University of Southern California
A LA2050 grant will support the internship program at the Center for the Political Future, in which college students are placed in unpaid political internships throughout the Los Angeles area. Many college students cannot accept unpaid internships due to their financial limitations, which ultimately impacts their future job prospects after graduation. Funding students at an unpaid internship produces social justice allowing everyone to take advantage of opportunities while in school in order to better prepare them for a successful career.
Please describe the mission of your organization.
The Center for the Political Future at the USC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that educates college students and the community on political issues at the local, state and federal level. The Center places students in unpaid internships in politics, policy making, and public service.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
What is the need you’re responding to?
College internships are a vital part of every college students’ experience. These internships, which are overwhelmingly unpaid in the political sphere, help prepare students to obtain gainful employment after college. It has become abundantly clear that only a particular segment of college students can take advantage of these opportunities, such as those students who can afford to do an unpaid internship. Part of the mission at the Center for the Political Future is to prepare future leaders with valuable experience. However, these opportunities exclude students who must earn income while at school to help defer their costs. This is a perfect example of social inequality within society. College students from all backgrounds should be given the opportunity to gain valuable career experience while in college and should not be limited by their financial situation. A grant through LA2050 will give all college students the opportunity to create their future.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
The Center for the Political Future is uniquely suited to take on this mission. For over 50 years, the Center (formerly the Unruh Institute of Politics), has placed thousands of college students in unpaid internships. The Center works with over 200 internship providers in Los Angeles to put students into internships during the fall and spring semesters as well as the summer. On average, the Center places 30 to 40 students per semester during the academic year and 20 to 30 during the summer. The Center has a dedicated staff that works with students to place them in internships of their interest but also to ensure we meet the needs of the internship providers. Students not only complete their required time at their internship but also complete professionalization workshops and academic requirements. The intra-structure within the Center ensures that students can be placed in internships while learning about life after college in the workforce.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
The broader implications of this proposal comes down to two words – social justice. Universities have worked diligently at providing resources to families with financial challenges so they can send their children to college for an education that they dearly deserve. However, paying for tuition, books and room/board are not the only costs. In many cases, students are also required to work a job in order to support their dreams. Funding students to participate in unpaid internships allow those students to work on their career path, rather than just a minimum-wage job to make ends meet. LA2050 will assist at leveling the playing field so that after school, all college graduates can achieve their goals.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
In the short term, success will be seen by an increase in the number of student interns, who would not have participated in our program without the funding support. Our plan is to survey all those students who speak to us about whether financial support is required in order for them to accept and determine how many students were directly impacted by the funding. In the long term, success will be viewed by those very same numbers but also through the interns who choose to contribute toward funding for future college interns in need of financial support to participate in our program. Success will also be viewed in both the short and long terms by examining whether our internship providers will contribute funds to support our interns. To date, we have never asked our internship providers for financial support. The LA2050 funding may very well be the seed money to start a perennial fund. All of the data we collect will be held at the Center and used for evaluating the effectiveness of the funding provided to our students.
Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?
- Income inequality
- Jobs per capita
- Unemployment rate
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community