As I mentioned in my previous post (my year in review), I have started my summer internship at Juma Ventures in San Francisco. Juma Ventures is a social impact organization that provides employment (selling concessions at SPORTS stadiums) for at-risk high school students (defined as first-generation college, income at or below 200% of the poverty level and grade point average between 2.0 to 2.9).
The wages students earn are matched 2:1 toward college scholarships. Their new program, CollegeSet utilizes a crowd-funding model (similar to Kiva) to support at-risk youth nationally and it is matched 1:1 with the support from BlackRock (yes, that BlackRock). The San Francisco Chronicle wrote an article that can be found here and a CollegeSet video here.
These two models empower students to be financially literate, incentivize high school graduation, and ensure access to an affordable college education. In 1993, Juma Ventures became the first nonprofit organization to own and operate a commercial franchise—a single Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream shop that provided a handful of jobs to homeless youth in San Francisco.
Since 1993, Juma has grown from a job-training and placement program serving 25 students, to a nationally recognized youth development organization operating seven social enterprises in four cities. Juma has employed more than 3,000 students who have earned $3 million in wages and saved more than $2 million for higher education. For the number crunchers/geeks, 98% of Juma’s students have graduated from high school and more than 85% have successfully transitioned to post-secondary education, far outperforming their peers.
To match the student’s wages, Juma administers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) for students. IDAs are unique savings accounts that match the deposit by the student, but that have specific restrictions set by the state and federal government. In order for students to utilize their funds towards college expenses, there is a laborious process for Juma staff—dealing with different IDA grants, federal funding, and other forms of financial support.
This is where I come in. My first project is to propose, train, and implement increased efficiencies within the current process. So, in short, it’s a project management summer gig with an awesome organization.
Second, Juma believes there are opportunities to partner with other non-profits to support their IDA processing needs in the long run. I am assisting their efforts in thinking strategically about how to best partner with non-profits. Yes, I’m being vague because there are confidential components to the work (I’m not trying to sound cool or important, because that’s definitely not the case).
Securing this opportunity did not come from ‘googling and cold-calling’ awesome social impact organizations in San Francisco. I learned about Juma when the Center for Public Leadership’s Dubin Fellows Program sponsored an amazing week-long field visit to San Francisco to learn about various private, public, and non-profit sectors’ commitment towards the public good (story here).
When we visited Juma, the success in their innovative youth empowerment business model blew me away (especially as someone who once fit the definition of the Juma student). Also, Juma’s Director of Finance and Administration is a HKS alum who is extremely supportive in empowering HKS students through this experience.
From the beginning of the semester, we were told to pursue our passion and the Office of Career Advancement and the Centers will support our endeavors regardless of if the organization can or cannot fund students. It is true.
In addition to receiving unprecedented access through the Dubin Fellows Program, the program graciously sponsored the majority of my summer internship funding. The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government also provided me with funds. This is why I chose Harvard Kennedy School over other schools: the robust network of people willing to support me professionally, personally, and financially, all rooted in a strong dedication to public service.
On a fun/social note, there are several dozen HKS students interning in San Francisco this summer. Therefore we will be getting together in a few weeks for wine tasting excursions in Sonoma (I mean, we have to, right?), along with several outings and hiking trips in beautiful Northern California. I will submit another update of my summer internship in early to mid-July. Thanks for reading!
This blogpost originally appeared on the Harvard Kennedy School Admissions Blog.
Special congratulations to Dubin Fellow Alvin Warren who was named a Lucius N. Littauer Fellow, which recognizes MPA candidates who excel academically and contribute to the community.
And kudos to Gleitsman Fellow Alberto Gonzàlez who received a Carr Center Human Rights Award for the “best human rights PAE” (The policy analysis exercise is a year-long capstone to the MPP curriculum).
Last week, two groups of HKS students ventured off to southwestern Virginia and Detroit, Michigan for self-designed public service trips. As part of the second year of the Leadership Service Seminar program, these trips were selected from a number of student submissions at the start of the spring semester.
Zuckerman Fellow Dan Bowles and Hy Martin led their group in studying rural economic development issues in southwestern Virginia. Check out the team's daily journal on Blogger.
Both groups receive funding and guidance from CPL, the Office of Degree Programs and Student Affairs, the Office of the Academic Dean, and CPL’s Student Advisory Board, but they were student-led start to finish.