The nonprofit group Fund II Foundation recently launched a project it hopes will open the door to top-tier STEM careers for thousands of underrepresented students.
InternX launched as a pilot program in summer 2018, successfully matching 70 undergraduates with internship opportunities in companies such as AT&T, PowerSchool, and more. This summer, that number grew to 1,000 undergraduates.
By summer 2020, the foundation hopes to raise that number to 10,000.
“It’s an ambitious goal, but we are up for the challenge,” spokeswoman Jackie Bazan wrote in an email to INSIGHT Into Diversity.
InternX consists of an innovative online platform where students can register and apply for thousands of STEM-related internships in a variety of sectors including financial, software, nonprofit, and more. The website is free to use for those seeking internships and for employers; thus far, 82 companies have signed on.
Students who are sophomores or above, have a minimum GPA of 2.8, and are from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups are eligible to register with the site. Their focus is the Black and Brown student population who “historically has had fewer [internship] opportunities available to them,” Bazan wrote.
Every position available through internX.org is paid and lasts for at least eight weeks. Many employers also offer relocation and housing assistance, though Fund II Foundation may provide this help on a case-by-case basis, according to the site.
The foundation hopes that these summer experiences lead to employment offers following graduation, Bazan says. The group’s ultimate goal is the “diversification of tomorrow’s workforce in STEM-related positions, especially tech fields.” Doing so “can help to balance inequity that has plagued underserved communities for far too long,” she says.
Fund II Foundation’s founding director is technology investor Robert F. Smith, who is known for recently promising to pay off all student debt for the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College, a historically Black institution. Ranked by Forbes as the world’s wealthiest Black American, he helped launch Fund II Foundation to “preserve the African-American experience” and “sustain critical American values such as entrepreneurialism,” among other goals.
Mariah Bohanon is the associate editor of INSIGHT Into Diversity. This article ran in the September 2019 issue.