The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) bases its policy analysis on the advancement of a strong and sustainable economy for Maine people. Through her work this summer, Alexandra Alvarez '13 (Sociology/Education Studies) researched the possibilities of expanding early childhood education in Maine and was able to discuss her research with other organizations invested in the issue. She wrote an article for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s online magazine with one of MECEP's policy analysts on the positive impact of immigrant small business owners on Maine’s economy. AdditionallyAlexandra co-hosted MECEP’s cable TV show, State of the State, during which she interviewed two other Bowdoin fellows on their summer experiences engaging with non-profit work.
"At MECEP I was exposed to the non-profit sector's dedication to analyzing and influencing the state government’s political atmosphere. I was challenged to not only research and write about current policy issues, but to make inferences and ask further questions. The staff encouraged my writing and analysis through constructive feedback and thoughtful conversation. I know my experience this summer will positively impact my future—academically, professionally and personally."
Community Financial Literacy provides financial education to Maine’s immigrant and refugee communities. This summer, Caroline Blake '14 (Government & Legal Studies/Spanish) helped revise the curriculum of CFL's "Basic Money Management" course. In June, she conducted a "community needs" survey of CFL’s target population. Then, together with a Programming Task Force, used the data she collected to develop five class sessions. Caroline also helped develop CFL's basic infrastructure—researching current best practices in non-profit management and using her findings to draft new policies, organize official documents, and create an employee handbook. Caroline also investigated new sources of funding and worked on several grant proposals.
"I gained a new appreciation for the role that non-profits play in improving the lives of the underprivileged. I learned that Maine’s immigrant and refugee communities are full of individuals who are eager to acquire the skills they need to improve their own lives. Unfortunately, traditional educational programs aren’t tailored to meet the specific needs of new Mainers. CFL and its partners offer those specialized services."
Jae Bradley '13 (Economics and Government & Legal Studies/Mathematics) worked as a policy analyst at the Maine Center for Economic Policy. During his time at MECEP, Jae analyzed higher education policy, changes in tax policy that occurred under Maine's 125th Legislature, researched the drivers of Maine’s net migration, and assessed the state of Maine jobs. To cap the summer, Jae hosted State of the State – a public access television show –which was an experience that was both one of the most nerve-wracking and rewarding experiences of the fellowship.
"As a Mainer, working for the Maine Center for Economic Policy has been, by far, the most rewarding summer of my life. Learning and writing about Maine’s economic policy has given me an inside perspective into the intricacies of Maine’s economic past and future – which has resonated at an intellectual and a personal level."
This summer Sasha Davis '13 (Government & Legal Studies/Education) interned at ArtVan, a mobile arts therapy program that brings free art services to populations, mostly children, with the least amount of social services available to them. Along with researching fundraising options, helping to edit and write grant narratives, and communicating with local businesses that support ArtVan, she also helped with planning and co-facilitating programs in each of the six low-income and subsidized housing developments the ArtVan visits in Bath, Brunswick, Biddeford, and Lewiston-Auburn. Sasha loved working on incorporating theater and movement pieces into the programming with the kids.
"Working with ArtVan has ignited in me a new passion for a different form of education. I have always been a believer and strong supporter of the power of the arts, but my internship this summer proved to me how important it is for children be given the opportunity to express themselves artistically. Developmentally, creatively, therapeutically--through a fun, artistic program ArtVan artists grow and learn every day."
Emma Johnson '14 (Anthropology/Gender & Women’s Studies) worked for Preble Street, an organization addressing hunger and homelessness in Maine. Preble Street runs a multitude of operations, including an adult day shelter, a women's shelter, full-time teen services, low-barrier housing facilities, daily meals, a food pantry, casework, and advocacy programs including Homeless Voices for Justice and the Maine Hunger Initiative (MHI). Spending most of her time with MHI, Emma was part of a team trying to solve the hunger crisis efficiently and humanely, facilitating such projects as the Summer Food Service Program, the Farm to Pantry project bringing local vegetables to food pantries, and partnerships with various pantries and food agencies.
"Working for Preble Street could have left me feeling hopeless and depressed, as every day I dealt with people suffering from hunger and homelessness. Though these two problems are becoming more and more dismal all the time, I can now attest to the remarkable resiliency of the people affected by them, the creativity and passion of those addressing the problem, and the strong sense of hope that pervades the advocacy culture. Needless to say, it was a summer well spent."
This summer Brian Kim '13 (English and Economics/Music and Teaching) worked at the Mitchell Institute. His work largely revolved around the Institute’s research briefs to schools and administrators - aggregating and transforming data from the Department of Education, Department of Labor, Census Bureau, as well as other research groups to summarize the relevant information into readable formats for educators. Using that data, schools are then able to compare their progress and performance with others of similar socioeconomic and cultural demographics. Brian also assisted the Institute in conducting their longitudinal studies on scholarship recipients, tracking trends in educational attainment, graduation rates, and post-graduate employment.
"Working at the Mitchell Institute has been an incredible opportunity for me to gain a wider perspective on the sorts of signs and indicators that mark Maine’s progress and difficulties in the field of education. By working closely with student data from each school in Maine, I was able to see how the deeply personal struggles of individual students translate into the broader statistics that help inform policymakers and educators alike in their attempts to remedy widespread issues."
Ariye Krassner '14 (Psychology) spent her summer interning at Independence Association, an organization that helps children and adults with developmental disabilities to live meaningful and fully inclusive lives. Ariye completed the online College of Direct Support program and attended a 2-day live training to become a certified Direct Support Professional, which enables her to provide in-home support to people with developmental disabilities. After completing the training, Ariye wrote an evaluation of the training experience, which will be reviewed at the state level before it is taken by an IA employee to a national conference. Ariye filmed the IA new hire training so that employees will not need to teach their portion of the training live every month. She also shadowed different parts of the organization in order to evaluate the applicability of the material taught in the new hire training. This shadowing in different departments gave Ariye a broader picture of their work and allowed her to interact with the Independence Association’s consumers, which is a demographic of people that she’s interested in working with long-term.
"My internship at the IA has reinforced my interest in clinical psychology, and has further motivated me to pursue a career in psychiatry or psychiatric nursing. I’m very grateful that the internship has not only confirmed, but strengthened, my passion for working with people with developmental disabilities, and that I have been able to spend the summer working for an organization that provides such valuable, high-impact services."
JBridgett McCoy '15 (Undeclared) worked as an organizing and outreach intern for the Environmental Health Strategy Center. She split her time between civic engagement and environmental justice projects. Through the civic engagement work, Bridgett and her co-workers collected hundreds of signatures and political actions from people all across the state of Maine in support of chemical reform policy. The outreach took place either at pre-existing events hosted by other entities, or at events the interns themselves planned. Bridgett also conducted independent research to expand the organization’s focus on environmental justice and created a database of leaders in low socioeconomic-status and racial minority communities.
"My time with the Environmental Health Strategy Center enriched my knowledge on their area of focus, chemical policy reform, and also gave me new skills and an understanding of the interests of Mainers. As an Outreach Intern, I spent my time organizing and tabling at events to inform Mainers on EHSC issues. I also researched the connection between the needs of communities of color and low socio-economic status and chemicals reform."
While working at Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project Emily Norton '14 (Government & Legal Studies/Economics) assisted in a wide range of administrative and legal tasks. Under attorney supervision, Emily prepared permanent resident, citizenship, and work permit applications for clients in ILAP's pro se clinic. She assisted attorneys in their legal cases, obtained client's criminal records, and conducted country conditions research. In addition, Emily accompanied ILAP's detention attorney to several know-your-rights presentations at the Cumberland County Jail. She assisted with front desk coverage, answering phones and handling other administrative tasks. Finally, Emily worked closely with ILAP's asylum attorney to overhaul the Googlesite for the pro bono panel asylum attorneys.
"While Maine is among the nation’s least diverse states, cities such as Portland and Lewiston have thriving immigrant communities that greatly contribute to the state as a whole. Working with ILAP not only put me in contact with these communities, but it also allowed me to appreciate just how complex our legal system is, and how challenging it can be to navigate. It has been truly inspirational working alongside individuals who are so dedicated to serving a population that is often overlooked and underappreciated."