$250K SCHEV grant boosts VCU-ChamberRVA internship initiative
Partnership aims to increase paid internship opportunities
Virginia Commonwealth University and ChamberRVA hope to expand paid internship opportunities in the Richmond region with the help of a $250,000 grant from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the chamber announced Thursday.
In October, the Virginia Chamber Foundation and SCHEV started a public-private partnership, the Virginia Talent and Opportunity Partnership (VTOP), to make internships and other work-based learning more accessible to students who can’t afford to take unpaid opportunities. This week’s award will support a new initiative, the RVA-VTOP Collaborative, which will include staffers from VCU and ChamberRVA and fund creation of two project coordinator positions.
Among the Richmond-based initiative’s goals are assessing currently available internship and experiential learning opportunities in GO Virginia Region 4 (which includes Richmond and Petersburg regions), connecting students with employers that are offering paid internships, determining internship and work programs that could grow, and creating reliable success measurements.
Erin Webster Garrett, assistant vice provost for VCU REAL, the university’s experiential learning center, said in a statement that the partnership has already been productive. “We’re thrilled to receive this grant, and eager to put our work plan into action. It’s been exciting to see our partnership with ChamberRVA grow and to find opportunities to combine everyone’s expertise and skills to benefit the region.”
Beth Weisbrod, director of the chamber’s RVA NOW program, which provides student internship opportunities, added that the initiative could also help Richmond keep more recent graduates in town.
“Creating a pathway for students to start forming relationships in the local business community is a powerful tool for improving talent retention,” Weisbrod said in a statement. “We have a lot of companies in the region with robust internship programs; however, we need more if we’re going to keep college graduates here.”