Internships in Congress
To the Editor:
Re “In Most Diverse House, Another First: A Record Number of Top Aides of Color” (news article, March 16):
Changing the face of top congressional aides is integral to ensuring points of view from people of all backgrounds. But we will never be able to bring wholesale change at the top if we don’t institute reform at the beginning of the staffing pipeline, beginning with congressional internships.
Internships on Capitol Hill have been unpaid for the last 25 years. Financial barriers have limited these opportunities to students who have the financial support to afford the high cost of living in Washington. The combined cost of a summer internship — including airfare, rent, Metro passes, food and a professional wardrobe — is roughly $10,000.
The House has just released guidelines allotting $20,000 per office to fund congressional internships, a big victory for low-income students who dream of starting careers in public service. But that money won’t cover every House intern, so offices will have to make sure that those funds create opportunities for those who otherwise couldn’t afford to be in Washington.
At the same time, the House should look for opportunities to further reduce barriers, working with private partnerships, nonprofits and foundations to make sure that every student has an opportunity to serve.
The writer is the founder and chief executive of College to Congress, a nonprofit that recruits, trains and provides scholarships to students to intern in Congress.
Originally posted at: New York Times