Exposing Students to Careers in the Nonprofit and Public Sectors

The Cleveland Foundation has conducted a summer internship program since 1999 that provides talented and diverse undergraduate students and recent college graduates an opportunity to work within Cleveland-area nonprofit and public sector organizations. Beyond an 11-week paid internship experience, interns also participate in and coordinate bi-weekly seminars that highlight the work of local nonprofit and public sector organizations, their roles within the community, and opportunities for professional development.


October – Organizations are invited to apply to host a summer intern

November/December/January – Interns are invited to apply to the program

February/March/Early April – Interviews with top candidates are conducted

Mid-April– Hiring decisions are made

June/August – 11-week job experience for interns takes place

The program’s objectives include:

  • Increasing local organizations’ capacity to conduct important short-term projects
  • Providing a full time, paid internship opportunity ($12 per hour)
  • Providing meaningful career-related work experience
  • Stimulating interest in a career in the nonprofit or public sectors
  • Exposing interns to a broad range of nonprofit/public sector organizations, leaders, and partnerships, building their first-hand knowledge of the Greater Cleveland nonprofit community and public sector endeavors

We are excited to announce that 2019 will mark the 20th anniversary of the summer internship program! Read more about past interns’ projects and experiences on our blog and follow #SummerofPurpose on social media for updates. Also, check out these interviews with three of our 2015 Summer Interns:

Joyce Huang – Cuyahoga Land Bank

Khalid Ali – Cleveland Transformation Alliance

Sam Braun – Montefiore Foundation

Group of 2018 Summer Interns stands in front of "Summer of Purpose" backdrop Information for Host Organization Applicants

Host Site applications for the 2019 Summer Internship Program will be open from Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 through Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. 

The program provides a limited number of college students or recent graduates an opportunity to work in Cleveland-area nonprofit organizations or governmental agencies during the summer months. All interns are required to work full-time (up to 40 hours) as designated by their host organization, and agencies are encouraged to hire interns as temporary employees. 


The following roles and responsibilities apply to host organizations:

  • Appoint a senior staff member to serve as the intern’s supervisor.
  • Provide ample supervision, feedback and support to the intern.
  • Provide meaningful work and learning experiences for the intern. Past interns have worked on projects such as event planning for a major fundraising event, designing an audience demographic survey, developing a marketing/outreach plan and revising training materials.
  • A group of interns sits at conference table at Downtown Cleveland AllianceDevelop and share a work plan for the intern outlining objectives and deliverables throughout the 11-week term.
  • Provide a workspace and other resources (access to a computer, reference materials, telephone) needed for the intern to complete work assignments.
  • Accept the intern as a temporary employee of your organization for the 11-week term of the internship program. The foundation provides funding to cover the intern’s stipend.
  • Attend a mandatory orientation at the Cleveland Foundation for selected Host Sites.
  • Organizations that have hosted an intern within the last two years are not eligible to apply.
  • Host Sites must be located within Cuyahoga, Lake, or Geauga counties. 

2018 supervisors shared the following highlights at the conclusion of the summer:

“I had a great experience … I would just say allow the intern to learn from you and allow yourself to learn from them.”

“The pool of candidate for interns is of very high professionalism – be prepared to give real projects without hesitation.”

“I would say that this is an incredible program and a wonderful opportunity for supervisors to get to know other organizations within the Cleveland nonprofit and public sectors.”

To apply: 

The application is available through the Cleveland Foundation’s Grants Gateway portal. If your organization is already registered within Grants Gateway, you can log-in with your username and password to access the application. If your organization needs to register, you can request access through the purple “Grants” box and then proceed through the registration and application processes.

For questions about the program, please contact:

Stephanie Molnar, Program Associate 


Information for 2019 Summer Intern Applicants

Applications for the 2019 Summer Internship Program will open Nov. 12, 2018 and close Jan. 21, 2019

  • Semi-finalist applicants will be contacted in early February and interviews will begin to be conducted in mid-February.
  • Interns will be notified of their acceptance into the program by mid-April.
  • The internship program begins on May 29, 2019 and concludes August 9, 2019.
  • Host sites and project descriptions will be shared alongside the launch of the application. To review examples of previous host sites and the projects that have been completed by interns, please refer to the “Interns and Host Organizations” documents that are included under Internship Resources along the left side of the page.

A group of interns tours greenhosue at Green City Growers Eligibility

Applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Applicants must be a college junior or senior in fall 2019 or a graduating senior in spring 2019.
  • If not a student attending a college or university in Cuyahoga, Lake or Geauga counties, applicants must be a permanent resident of Cuyahoga, Lake or Geauga counties.
  • Applicants should exhibit interest in the nonprofit or public sectors.
  • Applicants must not be a relative of a member of Cleveland Foundation staff or Board of Directors.

Other highly desirable qualifications include:

  • A strong academic record (preferably a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above)
  • Strong English verbal and written communications skills

How to Apply:

(If you have registered with us in the past you can skip the registration step and go to the Login link below)

  • Register for access to our online application gateway by entering your name and email, and creating a login ID. An email will be sent to you within 5 minutes. Please check your spam folder. Click on the link in the email to complete the registration process.
  • Login (with the email address you used to register), complete the internship application and upload your documents. NEW: You will need to complete the application and upload supporting documents for each mandatory requirement before you can “submit” your application. Deadline to submit: January 21, 2019.
    • Please note that a section of the application requires you to enter a personal statement describing your interest in the nonprofit or public sectors, why you are applying for the summer internship program, and your previous work and volunteer experiences. Written as an essay, your personal statement will help the selection committee learn more about you and also evaluate your writing skills. Maximum length is 3,500 characters (approximately 500 words).

Required Documents (to be uploaded in .pdf format):

  • Resume
  • Most recent transcript of all your college-level study
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your academic work, employment experience or community/volunteer activities.
    • We recommend that you upload the letters of recommendation directly into your online application. However, if your personal reference prefers to email their recommendation to us directly, they may . You will then need to upload a statement identifying the reference who will be emailing a Letter of Recommendation on your behalf. We will upload all Recommendation Letters received by the application deadline.

Please if there are any problems with registration.
For questions about the program, contact: 

Stephanie Molnar, Program Associate 


Helpful hints:

  • Have all documents required for the application ready to upload in a .pdf format (your resume, transcripts, essay and two letters of recommendation)
  • Start early – applications must be submitted by the deadline of Jan. 21, 2019
  • The application submission process (if you have your personal statement essay and all documents ready) should take about 15 minutes