Center for African American Studies launches civic internship program

Nov. 16, 2009 6:35 p.m.

The Center for African American Studies at Princeton University will launch a summer internship program to further research in race and public policy, allowing Princeton students to work with national organizations to confront issues of disparity in urban education.

Up to four Princeton students will be selected to apply their knowledge of African American studies while interning this summer at one of two nonprofit organizations that promote urban educational initiatives. The students are expected to participate in eight-week internships in June and July 2010, working with the Young People's Project in Jackson, Miss., or with the Making Waves Education Program in Richmond, Calif.

"Our partnership with the Making Waves Education Program and the Young People's Project reflects our commitment to offering our students an education that speaks directly to social problems that haunt American life," said Eddie Glaude, chair of the Center for African American Studies and Princeton's William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies. "These internships are our unique take on Princeton's informal motto of being 'in the nation's service and in the service of all nations.'"

This is the first internship program supported by the Center for African American Studies, which was established in September 2006 after existing as an academic certificate program at Princeton for 37 years.

The internships are designed to build upon coursework by providing students with opportunities to conduct original research that will help develop knowledge aimed at solving significant social problems. Students also are expected to further their internship experience after returning to campus, such as using the research as a basis for their junior papers or senior theses.

"Not only do we expect our students to possess competencies in African American studies – to know the relevant literatures of our field – we also aim to provide a set of skills that enable them to apply their knowledge to the problems, like urban education, that frustrate the dreams and ambitions of our fellow citizens," Glaude said.

Founded in 1996, the Young People's Project is an outgrowth of a national mathematics literacy effort, the Algebra Project, that promotes math skills in low-income students and students of color. YPP aims to use math literacy as a tool to develop young leaders and organizers who radically change the quality of education and life in their communities so that all children have the opportunity to reach their full human potential. Princeton students selected to intern for YPP will collect data and assist political organizers in their work of empowering communities around the issue of urban education. In addition to Jackson, Miss., YPP has established sites in Chicago, Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and is developing additional sites across the country.

The Making Waves Education Program, founded in 1989, helps make college acceptance, attendance and graduation a reality for students from economically depressed communities in San Francisco and Richmond, Calif. The tutoring and teaching program also provides support services such as nutrition education, college counseling, cultural excursions and field trips, and mental health services. Princeton students selected to intern for Making Waves will cull through more than 20 years worth of data to help determine how the organization has been successful in educating students who had previously been considered as being unable to achieve academically. According to Making Waves, 99 percent of their participants graduate from high school and 95 percent go on to college.

The Center for African American Studies has launched an aggressive effort to become the leading resource for the public's understanding for race in America, including engaging in more research and taking advantage of new avenues to broaden discussion of issues of race.

The new internship program will be managed by the Pace Center, the University's central resource for civic engagement, which supports high-quality public service internships that have been arranged specifically for Princeton students.

Princeton students may start submitting applications for the internship program on Monday, Nov. 30, when further details and an online application will be made available on the Pace Center website. Applications will be due Monday, Jan. 25, and interns will be selected in early March. All Princeton students are eligible to apply, though preference will be given to concentrators in the Center for African American Studies and/or to students with the specific research skills required for the two internship programs.

Students who are interested in more information about the internship program or who would like to apply should contact Elsie Sheidler, associate director of the Pace Center, at or (609) 258-7783.

Individuals who would like general information about the Center or the internship program should contact Noliwe Rooks, associate director of the Center for African American Studies, at or (609) 258-4718.