Students with youth who participate in the Parks and People Foundation’s SuperKids Camp in Baltimore, Maryland.

The University of Vermont joined the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) in 2015. SHECP seeks to advance an interdisciplinary approach to poverty studies with the goal of promoting citizens who are committed to diminishing poverty through meaningful civic engagement. To do this, SHECP supports curricular and pedagogical innovations to enhance poverty studies at member colleges and universities.

The Consortium's signature Summer Internship Program provides UVM students with an opportunity to participate in an 8-week funded internship at various partner agencies across the country. In addition to the community-based internship, there is an opening conference and a closing convening, allowing students to share their experiences and engage in reflection activities.

In addition to the University of Vermont, current consortium members include, among others: Middlebury College, Berea College, Elon University, Ohio University, University of Notre Dame, and Washington and Lee University.

Student Internship Stories

Since joining the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), eight University of Vermont students have participated in the SHECP Summer Internship Program. Five UVM students participating during the summer of 2017, joining 114 other students from the 24 consortium member schools nationwide. Student interns - enrolled in a broad range of degree programs - are placed at organizations across the country that support individuals and families living in poverty. The UVM contingent included the following students:

Phoebe Paron, a student in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, worked as a youth program coordinator at the Center for New North Carolinians in Greensboro, North Carolina.  The center that offers a variety of services to immigrants and refugees in the greater Greensboro area. As program coordinator, she worked with colleagues to plan and implement various activities for children, including a crafts program that allowed her to spend an hour a day fostering relationships with youth while teaching them the skills and dispositions related to crafts. The experience in Greensboro affirmed Phoebe's desire to be an educator, and also strengthened her understanding of the value of preparation, flexibility, and patience as essential to meaningful learning experiences.

Brenna Bedard, a Social Work major from the College of Education and Social Services, worked with the Saint Bernard Project in New Orleans, Louisiana, an organization founded in 2008 to help rebuild homes in the area. The mission has now expanded to include disaster preparedness and advocating on behalf of the communities it serves. Brenna worked with her supervisor to put together a disaster preparedness training that incorporated resilience traits. The project focused on providing a framework for preparedness and for recovery. Attentiveness to wellbeing was central to Brenna's experience as an intern, because in addition to managing her professional commitments, she successfully navigated some personal challenges as well. In the future, Brenna intends to work on criminal justice reform with attention to treatment rather than incarceration.

Emily Klloft, a Political Science major in the College of Arts and Sciences, joined the Quality Assurance Team at the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, an organization that provides programming for over 20,000 youth and adults. As a member of the Quality Assurance Team, Emily worked on a number of projects, including assisting with trainings. She also produced a video that showcased the manner in which attentiveness to assessment improves program quality. When framing her proudest accomplishment, Emily identified her work to find and create better technology and systems to assess the afterschool programs of the Harlem Children's Zone, aligned with the Zone's goal of cultivating an "organizational culture of success rooted in passion, accountability, leadership, and teamwork." Since her internship, Emily, an Honors College student, began research related to youth mentorship and reducing the number of youth of color in the criminal justice system.

Jenna Alessandro, an Elementary Education major in the College of Education and Social Services, taught at a summer camp in Baltimore as part of the Parks & People Foundation's SuperKids Camp, which has a mission of improving "the quality of life for residents of Baltimore by ensuring that everyone is connected to nature through vibrant parks and green spaces." Not only did the internship allow Jenna to use her developing expertise in elementary education, buy the internship also affirmed the importance of meaningful summer learning opportunities for kids. In particular, Jenna appreciated the chance to improve youth environmental literacy. 

For her summer internship, Maeve McDermott, a junior Statistics major in the College of Arts and Sciences, joined the work of N Street Village, a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, DC. When reflecting on the experience, Maeve shared that the experience challenged her to ask herself: "What am I willing to do in order to see the change I wish to see in this world?" She felt that a highlight of her work was creating friendships and connecting with people. While at N Street Village, Maeve supported various aspects of the programming, including preparing meals, running the bi-weekly clothing close, and spending time with women participating in programming at the village. Looking ahead to her future, Maeve has interest in working for a non-profit, as she loves to crunch numbers, and she understands the power of statistics to tell the stories of people who often don't have their stories told.

UVM's participation in the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty is possible because of the generous support of foundations, individuals, and families interested in advancing meaningful engaged learning experiences for students that advance the common good. Because of this support, all of the expenses related to the internship experience are covered, including housing and a living stipend. Therefore, the internships are available to UVM students at no cost.

For information about the summer internship program which fosters learning about poverty while providing service to nonprofit organizations that work to support individuals and families living in poverty, please contact Dr. Alan Tinkler, Associate Professor of Education in the College of Education and Social Services. Dr. Tinkler is the Internship Director for UVM's participation in the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty. He can be reached at

Web links for 2017 internships organizations mentioned above:

Application Information

The application deadline for the Summer Internship Program is generally January 15th. To apply, please visit the Internship Application.


For more information, please contact Alan Tinkler, associate professor in the College of Education and Social Services.