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Voices of the Internship - Considering Sustainability and Impact in Grant Making

Tags: Internship

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2018 intern Hannah Grace Bauman

When my friends discuss their career aspirations, a common theme emerges. Each person wants to cultivate meaning and purpose through his or her work. While they hope to effect positive change, many have realized that it can be difficult to find meaningful opportunities to do so, especially earlier in a career. Before realizing their idealistic dreams, my peers expect to drudge through several years of mundane work before landing a job with tangible impact.

I also subscribed to this belief throughout college. I planned to work hard for my degree and complete several years at uneventful jobs before having the opportunity to make a genuine difference, but my internship experience at El Pomar changed my perspective. I was honored to support the work of the Foundation on a daily basis, knowing that the small tasks I completed really did produce a positive impact for communities throughout Colorado.

As the Grants Intern, I researched different organizations throughout the state of Colorado that requested funding from the Foundation. If an organization aligned with the Penrose legacy and met specific requirements, the staff could recommend that the Trustees provide financial assistance. After observing the grant making process, I learned that El Pomar strives to realize progress in different areas rather than simply throwing money at ongoing problems. Before supporting an organization, the staff and Trustees critically consider local and state-wide problems and then examine how different nonprofits address these issues. For example, is an organization effectively addressing the needs of a particular community? Should future grants be provided over multiple years for a particular issue? Is an organization actually solving the problem it claims to address? Because I am passionate about effective community development, I appreciate that El Pomar works to fund lasting and sustainable solutions. Each grant request is thoughtfully handled, and I enjoyed supporting this process. 

El Pomar’s Internship provided a bridge between my daily work and community impact, and I loved researching and supporting different 501(c)(3) organizations throughout Colorado. After gaining more professional experience, I hope to work for the United States Agency for International Development. My time at El Pomar has granted me valuable experience that will translate well to a government career working in partnership with various nonprofits. I am deeply grateful for a summer internship that offered challenging, needed, and impactful work.