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Students Earn Work Study at Community Nonprofits

Approximately 60 Providence College students earned federal work-study funding this past academic year at nonprofit organizations through the Community Work Study program sponsored by the College’s Feinstein Institute for Public Service.

The Community Work Study program is the community service portion of the Federal Work Study Program (FWSP) operated by the U.S. government. Since 1993, the federal government has required that at least 7 percent of the FWSP funds PC allocates to students be used on community service employment positions, said Dr. Richard M. Battistoni, the institute’s director and professor of political science and public and community service studies.

For about 16 years, the institute has partnered with community organizations for the Community Work Study program.

“The program offers PC students receiving work-study funds the opportunity to make a difference in the community, to learn significant workplace skills in a community setting, and to reflect upon community concerns and what their efforts are doing to improve them,” Battistoni said. 

This type of off-campus work-study allows students to gain real-world experience related to their interests and academic work, while also assisting community organizations, said Kathryn Stewart, the program coordinator for the work-study program.

Varied locations for varied interests 

“It provides both a service to community partner sites and professional experience for our students who work in sites doing anything from afterschool programming to health programs at hospitals to ESL teaching and much more,” said Stewart.

The sites include schools such as Highlander Charter School, Saint Pius V School, and Times Square Academy; hospitals and medical clinics such as Bradley Hospital, the Centers for Behavioral and Preventative Medicine, and Faulkner Hospital; and non-profits such as the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, the Capital Good Fund, and the Samaritans of Rhode Island.

Some students are at sites for one semester in intensive internships, while others work there for the majority of their college career, Stewart said.

The sites are chosen based on criteria such as their ability to assist the community and to foster students’ academic and personal growth.

“Beyond that, other sites are chosen based on expanding interest areas to make sure students have opportunities to work at all different types of sites that fit into their personal and professional interests — such as working in hospitals, which has become an area in which we’ve added sites,” said Stewart.

Students apply for these positions initially through the Feinstein Institute and are later invited to have an on-site interview with the organization.

Jose Cruz ’15 (Lawrence, Mass.) serves as one of the counselors at the Boys & Girls Club of Providence on Chad Brown Street. He introduces different activities to the children such as educational games, sports and recreational games, and homework help. He said that the opportunity to work off-site was an exceptional way to gain valuable work experience.

Cruz said, “The most valuable thing that I have learned at my location is how similar this city is to the city I grew up in. I understand the struggle these kids are going through since I myself have gone through these struggles.”

 

— Geneveive M. Ilg '14 

 
 
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