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Great Lakes Commits Record $12 Million to Fund 7,000 New Paid Internships for College Students with Financial Need

Three-Year Grants Will Help 33 Colleges in Four States Cultivate Lasting Partnerships with Employers

— The value of a college education is realized when graduates become productive citizens equipped with the knowledge and skills that will help them succeed in their careers and communities. Internships are key to a stronger resume, but not all internships are paid, and students with financial need often can't afford the opportunity cost.

To help internships become more equitable, Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation has expanded its Career Ready Internship Grant into a three-year program. A record $12 million has been awarded to 33 colleges and universities in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin to create paid internships that will help juniors and seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. Grant recipients have already begun collaborating with businesses and nonprofits to develop new paid internships, and are planning to make them sustainable beyond 2018, when the Great Lakes grant period ends.

"We were thrilled to see so many colleges recognize that our funding could bolster the reach of their existing internship programs and sponsor new partnerships with area employers," said Amy Kerwin, Vice President – Community Investments at Great Lakes. "The 33 Career Ready Internship Grant recipients have embraced our desire to provide the greatest number of current and future students with an educational opportunity they might not otherwise have."

Great Lakes learned the positive impact of paid internships from its past one-year grants. The Career Ready Internship program began as a $2.5 million pilot at 19 Wisconsin colleges during 2013-2014, and led to $5.2 million in grants for 40 colleges across four states in 2014-2015. Thousands of students have now participated in newly created paid internships in their fields of study, and 98 percent of these students either graduated or continued in their academic programs the following semester.

"Paid internships benefit students, colleges and employers," said Richard D. George, Great Lakes President and Chief Executive Officer. "Students gain meaningful workplace skills and are more likely to earn degrees and use their internship experiences to help secure good jobs upon graduation. Colleges will see increased graduation and job placement rates, and employers gain a pipeline to fresh talent. It's a win-win-win."

The new three-year grants require colleges to make an escalating cash match, which will encourage institutional sustainability. Great Lakes believes partnerships between colleges and employers will strengthen as the shared benefit becomes a shared commitment to cover an increasing percentage of funding for internships by the end of the grant period.

Career Ready Internship grants are effective October 2015 through May 2018. Colleges will spend the first three months on administrative planning, additional employer outreach, and student recruitment. Paid internship placements for eligible juniors and seniors will begin in January 2016. An anticipated 7,000 new internships will be created during this three-year period.

Meet our 2015-2018 Career Ready Internship Grant Recipients »


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