No student internships at Hamline University will go unpaid, the university announced this week after receiving a combined $2.5 million in federal appropriations and donor gifts.
A $1 million appropriation, requested by Rep. Betty McCollum, will establish Pipers to Professionals – a program that levels the playing field by providing a living wage and wrap-around support services for students while they engage in an active internship. The promise of the program was quickly recognized by donors, who gave over $1 million to secure the future of the program and sustain its momentum.
Together, these funding streams support living wage stipends that will enable interns to free themselves from part-time jobs and other commitments to focus their time and effort on their responsibilities and learning.
“This funding ensures that no Hamline student will ever have to weigh the benefits of an internship against the financial consequences of leaving a job," President Fayneese Miller said. "Hamline is a place where people from all backgrounds come and discover what is possible for them. Now, thanks to Rep. McCollum and two generous donors, we will remove a significant obstacle students face when given the opportunity to pursue an internship that can unlock a pathway to personal success and a better future."
Over the past five years, Hamline students completed an average of 387 internships annually and only 37% were paid internships. Many students work two or more jobs while attending college and are deterred from participating in unpaid internships by the requirement to forfeit income. This is especially the case for many first-generation and financially-stressed students.
Pipers to Professionals will work to level the playing field by removing hurdles many students are forced to navigate, such as food insecurity and other financial stressors, that hinder academic success.
"Hamline has a tradition of being inclusive and making sure that no one is left behind,” Rep. McCollum said during a campus visit in August. "Hearing the stories of the interns here was absolutely fabulous. Seeing the partnership with St. Paul Police where they're donating time and mentorship to get people ready for the next step, that was also a great story that was shared here today, too."
This project has attracted support from the approximately 150 organizations that have hosted Hamline University students as pre-professional interns over the past five years. In return, the program will help employers find well-qualified and diverse employees by opening a pipeline for future employees. Looking ahead, ongoing fundraising efforts are in place to ensure the long term health of the program and support student internships in perpetuity.
Hamline’s appropriation was included in the 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, passed on Dec. 23. Additional Fourth District Community Project Funding recipients were Gillette Children's Hospital and Clinics, Penumbra Theatre and Sanneh Foundation.