University of Richmond summer internship funding programs saw significant growth in terms of both applications and awards given during the first year for the Richmond Guarantee, with the total amount of summer funding for 2015 nearing $1.7 million.
The University of Richmond Summer Fellowship program (URSF) had around 440 total applicants last year, said Ashleigh Brock, an associate director in Career Services. And of those 440 applicants, career services gave out 304 awards for the entire program, which includes the eight distinct funding programs for the university.
Brock, who heads the University of Richmond Spider Internship Funds program, said this year there were 591 distinct applicants who applied for summer funding and 485 total awards given to students to fund unpaid or low-pay summer research or internship experiences.
Based on the award pool Brock now has, which includes students who have not yet accepted the awards, the average award amount was $3,450 out of a maximum of $4,000, she said. “If every student accepted the funding the total for awards would be $1.67 million.”
Although there were 485 awards offered, Brock is not certain that every student who was offered an award will take it, so the final number will change as students solidify their summer plans. “To go from 304 awards to 485, there was clearly significant growth in the program with the Richmond Guarantee in place,” Brock said.
Kerstin Soderlund, who heads the Jepson Summer Research Grants and Burrus Fellowships, said Jepson made no Summer Research Grant awards in summer 2014, but made three for this upcoming summer. “As for Summer Research Grants – some years we have no applicants, others we have several,” she said.
All students who received funding this summer had to apply by the deadline for the URSF program and follow the application process, and the main issue with students who did not receive funding was eligibility, Brock said. Internships or research experiences need to be at least six weeks long and at least 240 hours, and Career Services can’t fund students if they don’t meet the basic requirements for the program.
Also, if an internship is paid and the student makes more than $10 per hour, they are ineligible to receive funding through URSF because one of the requirements of the program is that students make less than $10 an hour in a full-time work experience. Those are the two biggest reasons why students didn’t receive URSF funding, Brock said.
“With the Richmond Guarantee in place we have funding available for every current and future spider for one summer of unpaid or low-paid research or internship experience,” Brock said. “So the funding is available and the Richmond Guarantee represents a funding commitment on the part of the university to these experiences.”
Brock also said some students might not have received funding this year because they have received funding in the past, and URSF prioritizes first-time applicants in the application pool.
There is no quota or maximum that Career Services needs to fill every year in terms of awards, but there is a model made up for anticipated applicants each year, Brock said. “Even given this huge growth this year, we are committed to funding the Richmond students who meet all the deadlines and are eligible within the program.”
Brock also said that the URSF funding, which is a maximum of $4,000 for the summer, can’t be split between two summers or two part-time internship or research experiences. “We want the experiences students have to be substantive and that is why there are hour and week requirements for the program,” she said.
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“Because the Richmond Guarantee posits that students have access to one summer of funding, I think its going to become more important in years ahead for Richmond students to think ahead of when they want to take access to that funding,” Brock said.
Richmond President Edward Ayers, who has worked with a strategic committee to lay the groundwork for the Richmond Guarantee since 2008, said he’s thrilled to see the Richmond Guarantee taking hold so quickly and so broadly. “Students are seizing the opportunity, just as we hoped they would. I can’t wait to hear about the remarkable things they’ve done with the university’s support.”
Contact reporter Carney Judge at firstname.lastname@example.org
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