The Rees-Jones Foundation Youth Internship Program Celebrates Five Years
November 1, 2023

The Rees-Jones Foundation Youth Internship Program Celebrates Five Years

By Sara Meyers, Communications Specialist

The Rees-Jones Foundation Youth Internship Program closed its 2023 summer program with a celebration dinner at the Park City Club, focused on the 28 interns who participated in the eight-week program. Through the summer, interns served with six different host nonprofits, including: Behind Every Door, Buckner, Cornerstone Christian Academy, For the Nations, and Youth Believing in Change. Through the Foundation, nonprofits were able to offer paid internship experiences for youth ages 16-21. The internships not only provided work experience in a specific role at the nonprofit agencies,  there were also opportunities to participate in Christian discipleship, job skills training, community service, and discussions on career and calling throughout the summer. The interns convened altogether through four different gatherings hosted and curated by The Rees-Jones Foundation to hear from guest speakers and spend time with Rees-Jones Foundation staff.

The 2023 program theme was Identity in Christ, with a focus on Jesus’ words in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask in My Name, He may give it to you.”  Program coordinators agreed that the goal for interns this summer was to show every student that they have God-given potential and that each one of them can utilize their potential for the glory of God and the good of their communities.

The program originated five years ago with the intention of coming alongside nonprofit partners so they could provide high-quality, paid internships for youth they were serving in under-resourced communities. In a 2019 study, The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed over 3,900 graduating seniors and found that only 6% of paid interns represented were Black students and 10% were Hispanic students, compared to 74% of white students participating in a paid internship. [i] Internships have proven to be “very or extremely important for all young adults who seek greater opportunities in education or job-seeking.” [ii] Lynn Gibson, Program Officer for The Rees-Jones Foundation has coordinated the program from the beginning and writes, “During the past five summers, interns have not only helped to support the work of the nonprofits of which they’ve been affiliated, they’ve also formed bonds with the other interns while learning more about their own giftedness. For more than a handful of interns, the internship has helped them to re-imagine what their future work life and careers could be. It was truly gratifying to have a former intern close out the summer program at the dinner this year.”

Gibson, along with other Foundation staff and community partners, have created programming that ties in key topics like networking, investing, saving, giftedness so that interns walk away with tangible lessons they can carry with them. In 2023, as interns moved their way through the program every week, participants were able to learn about their specific gifts, hear the various ways they could receive a secondary education (i.e. four-year college, trade schools, community colleges), practice etiquette, and learn how to leverage their finances to meet their specific goals. Interns remarked how helpful it was to have a program structure that helped them not only grow in their faith journey, but also learn tangible lessons they could leverage across their future experiences in education, careers, and within their families. Samuel Adeyemi, two-time Rees-Jones Foundation summer intern, remarked at the closing dinner, “Through the internship program, I’m able to take something home with me to help me with my future.”

Participants also took part in community service projects with other local organizations so interns could have the opportunity to learn more in-depth about communities they may not be as familiar with and bring good to their neighbors. One intern remarked about his service project, “We didn’t know so many were hungry.” For many in the program, being able to take part in a summer opportunity that allows them to be a student of their city is helpful to encourage them with truths that they are a) not alone in their circumstances, and b) they are capable of pursuing greater opportunities.

The Rees-Jones Foundation is passionate about coming alongside organizations who are doing innovative work for our city’s youth. Over the course of the internship program the past five years, staff have seen many students feel more equipped as children of God and as servant-hearted representatives of their communities. To be able to walk with high school and young college students in the program is a gift for staff because so many of them are working for the first time, receiving paychecks, learning how to dress for a job, focusing on applications for college or graduate school, and being entrusted with greater program responsibilities because they are proving their dependability and integrity.

[i] https://www.naceweb.org/diversity-equity-and-inclusion/trends-and-predictions/racial-disproportionalities-exist-in-terms-of-intern-representation

[ii] https://www.collegerecruiter.com/blog/2019/08/26/how-important-are-internships-and-co-ops



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