A Growing Partnership

The Community Internship Program now supports more paid opportunities for Kenyon students to work with local nonprofit organizations.

The Community Internship Program now supports more paid opportunities for Kenyon students to work with local nonprofit organizations. This ongoing initiative partners Kenyon students with organizations in Knox County to provide internship experiences that allow students to test their thinking in the field. These kinds of high-impact practices are supported by the Our Path Forward campaign, with the goal of providing students at least two transformative experiences through internships, off-campus study, research or community-engaged learning.

Mark and Denise Ramser, local business leaders and philanthropists, saw an opportunity to benefit Kenyon students and the surrounding Knox County community through the Community Internship Program, which enables students to work five to 10 hours per week with local organizations.

The Area Development Foundation of Knox County and the Knox Community Hospital were the first to take advantage of additional funding. While these groups have a history of working with Kenyon students, in both community-based learning courses and unpaid internships, this is the first time they have been able to offer a stipend, providing an opportunity for students who otherwise could not afford to participate in an unpaid experience to deepen their involvement with the local community.

The Ramsers’ $30,000 gift provides additional financial support over the ensuing three-year period. “I hope there is continued interest from local organizations because my wife and I would love to continue to fund it,” Mark Ramser said. He and his wife are no strangers to supporting the College’s efforts to strengthen ties to Knox County, having donated $100,000 to help refurbish the old Buckeye Candy building in Mount Vernon — now the Kenyon College Wright Center — Kenyon’s only off-campus academic building and home to its Office for Community Partnerships (OCP).

“Through these internships, students have the opportunity to meaningfully connect with, learn from, and contribute to the impressive work being done in Knox County,” said Holly McCormack, dean for career development. “Our hope is that students will explore the connections between what they are learning in their classes and how it can be applied locally.”

By supporting these connections between Kenyon and the Knox County community, Ramser sees the potential for students to gain real-world experience, while providing local organizations with valuable work. Already thinking about potential intern projects, Ramser mentioned the Knox County Historical Society, an organization he leads, which needs to digitize its museum records and materials. In his view, such archival work could be a great match for history, art history or anthropology majors looking to hone skills for future employment.

“These internships have been a great way for local organizations to move their projects forward and for Kenyon students to gain valuable work experience, learn more about Knox County, and work closely with community experts and business professionals,” said Jan Thomas, senior advisor for community relations.

Beyond the immediate benefits of aiding local organizations, Ramser hopes to plant a long-lasting  appreciation of nonprofits among Kenyon students, to “spark their interest in being involved with nonprofit organizations in their community.”