SECU Foundation Awards UNCW $200,000 Grant to Support Rural Internship Program

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The University of North Carolina Wilmington was awarded a $200,000 grant from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation to continue a program that allows UNCW students to earn valuable job experience as interns in small-town community organizations.

The SECU Rural Internship Program offers summer internships at nonprofits and local government offices in rural communities. The program is a joint effort of the Office of Community Engagement, the UNCW Career Center, QENO (Quality Enhancement for Nonprofit Organizations) and SECU.

“This grant will provide funding for UNCW students to participate in meaningful internships for summer 2017 and 2018, and for area nonprofit and government organizations to benefit from the skills, creativity and energy of our students,” said Thom Rakes, director of the Career Center. “Student interns will work with these area agencies to complete priority projects to serve the citizens in southeastern North Carolina.”

Selected students will work through the campus’ Certified Internship Program. The CIP helps students express to future employers how their experience helped prepare them for the jobs they seek after college.

Internship priority goes to students who come from the target counties or other rural areas and who are interested in working in rural communities after graduation. The goal is to help them gain meaningful work experience and to show them their talents can be put to good use in communities that often have difficulty filling professional jobs.

“We are excited about this chance to continue to assist our students with important applied learning opportunities that can benefit these agencies and the larger community,” said Lori Messinger, associate vice chancellor for community engagement. “Being notified of these funds this early in the academic year allows us more time to plan and make sure that the experience is beneficial to all involved. Multi-year funding also allows us to be creative, to consider ways to involve more students and more agencies.”

Previously, the university received a $100,000 SECU grant to fund 19 internships that took place over the summer. Students worked with nonprofits and local government agencies in Brunswick, Onslow and Pender counties. Some of their accomplishments include developing a plan for credit card fees that would potentially save Pender County $80,000, writing two grant proposals that were both approved, securing $1,500 for a nonprofit agency and assisting in the creation of community health action plans.

Funding for the SECU Rural Internship Program comes from SECU members, who designate $1 from a monthly maintenance fee to the SECU Foundation to make a difference.

“As many university employees are state employees, many of us also contribute that dollar, which is now coming back to benefit our students and local communities,” Messinger added.

-- Venita Jenkins

#Career Center