The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Student Apprenticeship Program to Undergo Changes


Effective fall of 2014, the Apprenticeships in Nonprofit Management Program, a College service learning work study program, will shift gears as the program changes hands from the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement to the Center for Careers, Life, and Services (CLS) at the College.

Currently in its fourth year, the Apprenticeship program—now termed the Service Learning Fellows Program—places six Grinnell College students under the mentorship of nonprofit organizations within the community for a 12-month period. At the moment, the participating organizations, or community partners, are Imagine Grinnell, Poweshiek Iowa Development, the Grinnell Area Arts Council, the Ahrens Foundation, the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement and the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to Melissa Strovers, Program and Communications Manager at the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement, apprentices are held to a high standard and positions are reserved for second to fourth-year students who demonstrate an impressive aptitude and experience level in their respective areas of interest, based on their application and subsequent interview.

“The idea of the program is that students work under the direction of organizations for 12 to 15 hours a week, plus [winter and summer] breaks, so they get a full experience working in a 12-month position,” Strovers said.

According to Susan Sanning, Assistant Director of Service Learning and Engagement at the CLS, there had been ongoing discussion between the CLS and the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement concerning moving the program under the umbrella of the former in order to fully utilize the resources available at the CLS in a way beneficial to both students and participating community partners. The change was further precipitated by the confusion on behalf of community partners as to who to contact regarding working with students.

“What we’re trying to do is improve campus community relationships by making this program consistent with the way we think communication would be best served, as well as helping [community partners] understand the differences between our two offices,” Sanning explained. “If they want to work with students, they’ll come here. If they’re interested in community development and philanthropic issues, they’ll go to the [Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement].”

One of the main changes to the program concerns the decrease in required work hours and the alteration from a one-year commitment to a work period of September to May. Rather than requiring a commitment of 12 to 15 hours a week for a 12-month period, the Service Learning Fellows Program will have a two-semester commitment with a maximum 10-hour work week.

Notwithstanding this change, students and community partners will still have the option to apply for CLS-funded internships over breaks upon mutual agreement. However, the change in required work hours will add flexibility into the program and the schedules of apprentices. Both Sanning and Strovers view the change in hours as a beneficial way for students to better balance professional work, academic work and civic values with a holistic mindfulness of wellness.

“What we’re also trying to do is make the program more accessible to more students. Not every student has the privilege of [being able to commit] 12 to 15 hours a week, plus all of the other responsibilities,” Sanning explained.

Currently, the Apprenticeship program is inaccessible to certain students, particularly international students and students who do not have federal work study in their financial aid package. However, as a result of another change in the program in which the College assumes the role of the program’s employer, the Service Learning Fellows Program will be open to any employable Grinnell College student next year.

“Community partners are really excited about that [change] because the diversity of the pool of students they can work with drastically increases,” Sanning said.

A change in response to the decrease in mandated work hours for student apprentices requires apprentices to take on responsibilities that are not solely leadership based. Starting next year, they will be expected to take on duties concerning publicity and advocating for particular issues in the community. For example, an emphasis will be placed on helping organize student volunteer groups for community partners and working to receive funding for those student groups.

“This change may even further engage more students to come together and work for a common cause and maybe with a local nonprofit,” said Strovers, who believes that this change will better help instill professional skills essential to nonprofit management in student apprentices.

Despite the aforementioned changes, the overall core values of the program remain grounded on civic engagement and service learning. The cohort-based model will still require apprentices to meet with one another regularly and collaborate with leadership in their respective partner organizations to achieve goals they deem advantageous to the needs of the community.

“One of the things that’s really important is that the students and the community partners mutually agree on the goals of what they want to learn, so that both can be excited,” Strovers said. “What I like about our current community partners is they really work with individual students to find out what their passions and interests are, so each year those goals and what the student does are a little different.”

Sanning and Strovers also believe that the changes instated will equally benefit both student apprentices and community partners, by preserving the mutually beneficial relationship between the participating parties. In the past, the program has bridged connections between the College and the community by providing a chance for college students to work closely with local nonprofit organizations, while simultaneously offering community partners a better understanding and awareness of how to work together with the campus and the College.

“In a small town, you end up doing things the same way for a long time. On one hand, there’s something really great about it because the community knows what to expect and who to contact, but with this program what you get is a new perspective,” Sanning said. “The students bring innovation in a very unique way and the community partners bring an understanding of the community’s context—its capacity and feasibility—which are really important skills for our students to learn.”

Students can apply online for the Service Learning Fellows Program on OrgSync starting Monday, March 10.

Apprenticeship - Contributed

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *