What are the elements of a quality education? Certainly, classes, coursework, field trips, labs, and dynamic educators are included in the formula. However, there is nothing quite like the experience of being able to put all of that valuable knowledge to work in the real world.
With graduation season right around the corner, many students are focused on the future. And for some, that may mean preparing to enter into a post-secondary educational program.
The WCCF has administered post-secondary scholarship funds for more than two decades. During that time, the Foundation has seen the incredible impact made by nearly $2 million in cumulative post-secondary scholarship awards. But in recent years, there have been tremendous changes in both the secondary and post-secondary educational arenas.
More high school students are learning remotely, enrollment at many post-secondary schools is down, and there seem to be far more instances of scholarship displacement. Unfamiliar with the practice? Scholarship displacement occurs when certain forms of financial aid, such as a college or university’s aid package, are reduced as the result of a student receiving a private scholarship. So, although the private scholarship’s donors intended to make education more affordable for the student, ultimately, the displacement eliminates the financial benefit of that earned award. Since scholarships can be an incredibly meaningful way for donors to support students, the WCCF works to prevent displacement to the extent possible. Yet, we recognize that the final outcome is often out of our control.
In our commitment to serve as a resource for area charities, finding creative solutions to address their diverse needs is something that is within our control. Furthermore, scholarships do not serve as the only means to help students gain access to enriching educational experiences or ease their financial burdens.
At the end of 2021, the WCCF worked with an anonymous donor to create the innovative Three Oaks Internship Fund. It is the first of its kind at the Foundation.
Grants will be awarded from the internship fund to local nonprofits to provide a monetary stipend to student interns. To be eligible for the internship, students must be performing services for the nonprofit, enrolled in an accredited course of post-secondary study, and qualify as an “intern” under all applicable laws and regulations.
The WCCF has existing relationships with more than 150 local nonprofits, and we anticipate the new internship program will generate great interest among them. Without such a grant, many organizations simply would not have the means to attract and monetarily compensate student interns.
WCCF internship fund grants will be awarded to nonprofits on a competitive basis, except when otherwise directed by a donor. In addition to the monetary benefit to the student, internships can provide valuable work experience, particularly when the internship is directly related to the student’s educational path. These internships can also be very beneficial to local nonprofits, which are often understaffed due to limited financial resources.
Over the years, numerous charity representatives have given wonderful accounts of the mutually beneficial relationships created by internships. Among them is Tracie Liberatore, Executive Director of the Bradford House Historical Association. She remarks, “We offer internships year-round. Past interns have attended Trinity High School, West Virginia University’s graduate program and PhD programs, Washington and Jefferson College, the University of Pittsburgh, and Robert Morris University. . . Our interns have the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the small house museum and visitor center, as well as gain exposure to the business through hands-on learning, projects, and fundraising. . . Being the only full-time employee at the Bradford House Historical Association, there are many tasks or projects that I must push to the bottom of the pile because of other priorities. Our interns have reduced my to-do list greatly, but they have also learned so much in the process!”
Already, other WCCF donors are excited about the idea of supporting both students and charities through an internship fund. Plans are underway to announce two more internship opportunities later this year, and the Foundation expects momentum to build as the first round of internship grants are issued.