Our #SummerOfPurpose blog series follows this year’s Cleveland Foundation Summer Interns and Porter Cleveland Fellows as they spend 11 weeks working with Cleveland-area nonprofit and public sector organizations. In today’s blog, we hear from Ebony Kennedy, a Porter Cleveland Fellow who worked with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland this summer.
College: Wheaton College (MA)
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Internship Host Site: The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
How did you first hear about the Cleveland Foundation?
I am one of the recipients of Wheaton’s Porter Cleveland Fellowship, which provides a stipend and free housing provided by Case Western Reserve University for Wheaton students who find internships at nonprofit organizations in Cleveland. As part of this fellowship, we have the opportunity to participate in the weekly professional development sessions that the Cleveland Foundation offers for its interns.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your fellowship experience?
I was placed in the development department of Legal Aid, so I was able to learn so much about private fundraising and donor outreach. I spent about half of the summer helping to plan for the silent auction portion of Jam for Justice, Legal Aid’s annual summer fundraiser. Caitly, the other intern, and I would walk around to local organizations and ask them to donate prizes for the auction. There were moments where we both were really frustrated, but it was all worth it to package the prizes and see people excited to bid on them. It is rewarding to help build something from the ground up and physically see the fruits of your labor.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?
This was my first time in Cleveland, so I was excited to participate in all of the community events. I enjoyed the Hessler Street Fair and Wade Oval Wednesdays, and I had a great time volunteering at Fiesta Latina, an event sponsored by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture in Public Square.
What are your career goals after college?
While I’m still unsure of exactly what I want to do, I know I’d like to apply for post-graduate research fellowships like Fulbright and Watson. I think it’s important to set goals and gradually work towards them, but I also understand that no matter how much I plan, I will continue to discover new things about myself and the world that will shift my career path. What I do know is that whatever I decide to pursue, I want to be helping people and expanding my knowledge.
How has this fellowship helped you grow professionally?
This internship has challenged me to be more organized, to take pride in the work that I am doing and to always strive for clear communication with the people that I am working with.
Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?
To see a show at the Hilarities Theatre on East 4th Street. They have great comedy and even better pizza.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program?
I would tell them that it’s a great opportunity, but that it’s also what you make of it. One of the most rewarding parts of this experience was building a relationship with my career coach who helped set up an informational interview between me and a Judge that she is friends with. I would tell them to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities.