Bennington College has been awarded a four-year $290,000 grant from the New York-based The Endeavor Foundation to launch The Endeavor Foundation Environmental Changemaker Fellowship Program, which includes funded internships for Bennington students to work in nonprofits with a focus on environmental justice.
This new fellowship extends Bennington’s commitment to work-integrated learning by combining hands-on work experience with education and mentorship in order to equip a cohort of undergraduate leaders with the experiences, skills, and capacities to advance environmental justice causes, address complex societal challenges, and become effective changemakers in the world.
“The Endeavor Foundation is delighted to support this exciting new fellowship program at Bennington College,” said Ashley B. Kidd, Program Director for Grants and Research at The Endeavor Foundation. “We believe that this program will strengthen students’ capacity to advance complex environmental and social justice causes, training them as a new generation of changemakers, while advancing our commitment to social justice organizations.”
“We are so pleased to launch this program and expand our fellowship model to include critically needed fellowships in environmental action,” said Isabel Roche, Interim President of Bennington College. “They are a natural extension of Bennington’s distinctly experiential approach to learning and our commitment to empowering students in their pursuit of solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.”
A pilot cohort for the program will be selected in Summer 2020. The Fellowship will then formally launch in January 2021 over Field Work Term, the College’s annual six week internship experience.
Supporting Paid Internships in Environmental Justice
At Bennington, the demand for social and environmental justice-oriented Field Work Term internships is high—more than 60% of Bennington students work in the non-profit sector each year. However, only 16% of those positions are paid.
“This gap leaves out many talented students who cannot consider work in these fields without financial support and represents a structural inequity that reverberates far beyond Bennington,” said Faith McClellan, Associate Dean of Work-Integrated Learning. “With The Endeavor Foundation’s generous support of this Fellowship, we can work to correct these inequities while also providing more students with opportunities to make change in our world.”
Cohort-Based Education and Mentorship Opportunities
The Endeavor Foundation Environmental Changemaker Fellowship Program will widen the breadth of Field Work Term fellowshipsavailable to Bennington students, all of which provide funding, mentorship, and the opportunity to be part of a cohort of students working in specific focus areas.
Field Work Term fellowship opportunities also include the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation Fellowship, the Adnan Iftekhar ’97 Entrepreneurial Fellowship, the Newman Public Action Fellowship, Arts and Technology Fellowship, and the Population Health Fellowship. Bennington students also have the opportunity to participate in Museum Fellows Term, offered in partnership with the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, that provides practical, professional art world internship experience working at a major cultural institution in New York City for five months.
In connection with the hands-on learning provided by their internships, Environmental Changemaker Fellows will develop together as a peer-supported cohort through pre- and post-fellowship courses, bolstered by faculty mentorship. Courses will be led by Judith Enck, Senior CAPA Fellow and founder of the Beyond Plastics project, which empowers college students around the country to reduce plastic pollution.
In advance of their Fellowship, students will enroll in a one-credit course designed to both enhance their knowledge of the complexities of environmental issues and prepare them with the leadership and communication skills needed to facilitate community-driven work.
Several mentoring sessions will be held over the course of Field Work Term, led by Judith Enck and guest presenters from the environmental and social justice fields.
After the Fellowship’s conclusion, students will participate in a one-credit course that considers what it means to act with constructive social purpose. Students will be encouraged to examine their experiences as changemakers from sociological, cultural, and critical lenses, and to reflect on how they, as future leaders, want to serve.
Employers interested in partnering with Bennington College to offer Field Work Term positions within their organization are encouraged to visit the Recruit Bennington webpage for more information or to contact Sarah Clader, Associate Director of Field Work Term, at email@example.com.
Article Originally posted at Vermont Business Magazine