While Covid-19 caused much upheaval in our lives, forcing us to change our plans or how we go about accomplishing our goals, or even everyday tasks, it has also provided us with great opportunities. Many have learned new skills, renewed relationships, or simplified their lives for a time. Because of Covid-19, the University of Notre Dame ended the Fall semester early and chose to begin the Spring semester later than usual. This extended break over the winter provided the opportunity for students to participate in various programs including online courses, research experiences, career development, and community engagement.
The Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) took advantage of this opportunity by providing an unpaid winter internship experience for Notre Dame students which will allow them to earn course credit in the Spring semester. In January of 2021, 18 students from 7 different disciplines contributed to 5 community-engaged projects of importance to the South Bend-Elkhart region. Due to the virtual format of the program, students located internationally were able to participate. During the orientation week of the internship students engaged in training sessions about project management, leadership, diversity, and design thinking to enhance their experience. In the following weeks, with the guidance of community and/or faculty mentors, students worked to advance efforts in 2 of CCI’s research areas; equitable access to health and well-being and data informed decision support for community development.
Within these focus areas students worked alongside organizations such as 100 Black Men, the South Bend - Elkhart Regional Partnership (SBERP), National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), the City of South Bend, and Elkhart Community Schools. Organized by CCI program managers Lauren Lounsbury and José Chiquito Galván, the interns worked full-time for 4 weeks gaining valuable experience and serving the community in a lasting way.