New Gifts Strengthen Bowdoin's Public Service Initiative

By Rebecca Goldfine
Two recent gifts—one from The Hearst Foundation, Inc. and one from a Bowdoin parent—will help students pursue public service internships in Washington, DC, and in Maine.
Bowdoin Public Service students in DC
Bowdoin Public Service in D.C. students on a trip last March

The Bowdoin Public Service Initiative (BPS) has, since it launched in 2017, offered students several pathways to explore the complex, fascinating—and for many, very rewarding—field of public service.

The initiative offers exploratory and experiential programs that allow students to delve into the workings of local, state, and national government. Through both classroom learning and real-life opportunities—including plenty of chances to connect with alumni—BPS opens the door to the world of public service and encourages students to consider careers in the sector.

From its inception the initiative has consisted of three main parts: a seven-week sophomore seminar on public policy followed by an immersion trip to Washington, DC, over spring break; on-campus programming; and a ten-week summer fellowship program in DC where competitively selected juniors earn full-time internships in a federal office, agency, or non-governmental organization affiliated with the government.

In addition to their internships, fellows meet with alumni to build their knowledge and networks in government organizations. In the program’s first two years, students have interned on Capitol Hill as well as with the Department of Justice, Office of Management and Budget, Environmental Protection Agency, and the State Department, among others.

In December, The Hearst Foundation, Inc. awarded the College a $150,000 grant that supports students participating in the BPS Fellowship program. The gift will enable the College to offer more fellowships in the coming years. “Bowdoin students’ interest in serving our country is inspiring, and these experiences provide invaluable insights into careers in these fields,” said Alison Yu, Hearst program officer.

The Hearst Foundations provide philanthropic support to organizations in the areas of education, health, culture, and social service. Among their gifts to Bowdoin over several decades, the Foundations established an endowed scholarship fund at the College in 1986. This fund annually provides scholarship support to students receiving financial aid, particularly those who are first in their families to attend college and hail from Maine. To date, more than seventy-five Hearst scholarships have been awarded.

Allison Crosscup, Bowdoin's director of corporate and foundation relations, facilitated the latest grant for the College. "The Hearst Foundations have been generous supporters of Bowdoin students for many years," she said. "With this most recent award, we are grateful to be partnering again to provide students with access to opportunities in public service that will truly enrich their undergraduate experience."

Additionally, a gift from Lee Lockwood P’01 will allow the Bowdoin Public Service Initiative to offer students three summer fellowships to intern with local and state government in Maine. Two students will receive funding to intern in the town manager's offices of Brunswick and Topsham. A third will intern with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.

Lockwood, whose son John graduated from Bowdoin in 2001, has a long connection to Maine: she worked for two Maine senators and sent both her children to the Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki, in Wiscasset.

"I am a huge believer in the importance of community," she said, "and I think that the more people are knowledgeable about and invested in their local government the stronger their community will be. Exposing students to a local government experience is one way to build appreciation for our American experiment."

Sarah Chingos, who directs the Bowdoin Public Service Initiative for the McKeen Center, said the recent gifts open doors for many students who can't afford to take unpaid summer internships. Many government organizations, while offering excellent internship programs, don't offer wages to interns.

"These grants will provide critical funding support for students so they can pursue meaningful work experience in a federal or local agency," she said. "We are so appreciative of both the Hearst Foundation and Lee Lockwood for supporting our future public servants in this way.”