By Susie Nelson
What makes a community great? Its people, of course! There has been a lot made of young people returning to Wheeling and to the Ohio Valley to find work. It’s heartwarming to hear that they are happy to return. One local organization is working to help young talented people return to the Valley right after college.
For the last two summers, the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley (CFOV) has worked with college students to help them find paid internships in the region. The Civic Leaders Fellowship Program was made possible by a grant from the Benedum Foundation, in partnership with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.
Students must be from the Ohio Valley and must have completed at least their freshman year of college to participate in the program. Students submit applications for the program and a local advisory committee works to select the students. Once the students are selected, CFOV and the advisory committee find placements for each of them. For example, last year a WVU student from Wheeling, majoring in Human Resources, was placed at the City of Wheeling Human Resources Department. All students are paid through the grant funds provided by the Benedum Foundation and local matching funds. The students work Monday through Thursday at their placements, and on Fridays they convene at the CFOV for civic leadership training. This training involves bringing in various speakers from the region to talk about different local topics such as local history, employment opportunities, personal finance, local government, and local events.
In 2013, eight students participated in the program. By 2014 the participation doubled with 16 students.
This year the program will continue with opportunities for both returning students and first-year students. Applications for both students and businesses are available now on the Community Foundation’s website at www.cfov.org.
The goals of this program are to provide young people with a quality summer internship within their field of study, allowing them to make professional contacts in the community, and to strengthen the bond between the student and the community, making their return to the region more likely.
If you have an idea for an internship opportunity for one of our local students, which could help engage our young college students with our community, please contact us at the Community Foundation. Thank you.