A new Worcester State Foundation program that offers $500 stipends for students participating in unpaid experiential learning projects is proving to be wildly popular, with almost 100 students submitting applications already for the 50 stipends available this fall. The Foundation is offering a $25,000 challenge grant to encourage other members of the Worcester State community to donate to the effort so more stipends can be offered to meet the obvious need.
“Students are under a great deal of financial stress due to COVID-19, and that stress may make unpaid learning experiences hard to swing,” says Vice President for University Advancement Thomas McNamara ’94. “We hope these stipends will continue to encourage students to take what they have learned in the classroom and translate that into real-world experiences.”
The idea came out of the Safe Return External Relations Sub-Committee and received enthusiastic endorsement from the Worcester State Foundation Board. The stipends are available for students who are participating in unpaid internships, practicums, student teaching, field work, or other experiential learning projects this fall. The deadline for students to apply is Thursday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m.
“We heard from the faculty members on our committee that unpaid experiences like these are essential to students graduating with marketable skills,” says McNamara. “Students may have to turn down unpaid opportunities because they need a paying job to fund their educational expenses. With more funding, we can provide even more stipends to help ease some of this stress.”
Business Administration and Economics Professor Lisa Wark, Ph.D., and her husband, Steve, recently made a gift to the effort because they recognize the value of these learning experiences.
“We contributed to the Experiential Learning Stipends Fund because we feel that our students may need financial support to participate in these valuable opportunities,” says Wark. “As a faculty sponsor of internships, I have seen directly how these experiences enhance students’ learning and also provide them with critical advantages as they start their careers paths. Experiential learning practices have a high impact on students as their classroom learning is integrated into real-world applications.”
To help fund more stipends for the fall semester, as well as continue the program into the spring, visit: alumni.worcester.edu/els .
Students can apply for the Experiential Learning Stipends here: https://forms.gle/CkbEnFTRZjg2uZmn8.