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Success Story: Summer Internship Programs

  • A woman giving a tour of a U.S. government building
  • Intern group photo outside the U.S. Capital Building
  • A photo of President Obama and a young participant of the Summer Internship Program

Organization: American Association of People with Disabilities, U.S. International Council on Disabilities, The Washington Center
Grants: $1,569,090
Years: 2002 - 2019

In 2002, MEAF provided a grant to the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to place two outstanding college students with disabilities in internships on Capitol Hill. Originally dubbed the MEAF-AAPD Congressional Internship Program, the program has grown and evolved over the past decade into the AAPD Summer Internships Program, placing college students with disabilities from across the country in Congressional Offices, Federal Agencies, nonprofits and corporations each summer. MEAF's most recent grant to AAPD is to help AAPD bring the success of the Federal Summer Internship Program to the State level. AAPD is replicating the program in Atlanta, GA in the summer of 2018.

Over the years, Microsoft, Walmart, The HSC Foundation, Coca-Cola Foundation, AT&T, Arconic Foundation, Google, Centene Corporation, Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia and other funders have joined with MEAF in supporting this premier internship program providing career development experiences for nearly 200 up and coming young leaders.

In 2013, with MEAF's support, the U.S. International Council on Disability replicated the Summer Internship Program model to place students with disabilities in foreign affairs organizations helping to broaden participation in this field.

In 2014, MEAF joined with other funders, such as AT&T, Prudential, The HSC Foundation and others to support The Washington Center's Leadership Initiative for Studnets with Disabilities. 12 MEAF Scholars from across the U.S. will participate in internships at various organizations in Washington, DC throughout the year.

Project Results

The list of accomplishments of the alumni of the AAPD Summer Internship Program grows each year. 86 alumni report having full time employment, a few outstanding examples:

  • Stacy Cervenka ('04) was hired by Senator Brownback (R-KS) following her internship progressing to become the Senator's Legislative Assistant. She went on to graduate school and is now working Rehabilitation Services in California.
  • Andrew Phillips ('05) graduated law school and is now a policy attorney with the National Association of the Deaf.Screen capture of a young man in the AAPD Summer Internship Video
  • Elizabeth Kolbe ('06) was a paralympic athlete in swimming in the 2008 games. She graduated from Harvard and Stanford Law, and is now an associate attorney at Sidley Austin LLP in their healthcare law practice
  • Haley Kimmet ('06) worked with TASH--a national advocacy organization for people with severe disabilities.
  • Arisa Nakamori ('07) is in Human Resources at the U.S. Department of State.
  • Dana Fink ('08) served as Program Manager with the American Association of People with Disabilities, and is now Assistant Project Coordinator at the Institute for Educational Leadership's Center for Workforce Development .
  • Leah Katz-Hernandez ('09) established DeafYouth USA,  became a White House fellow and HSC Foundation Transition Fellow. She worked for the White House in the Office of the First Lady, and as the receptionist of the United States for President Obama. She now works in strategic communications at Gallaudet University.
  • Ari Ne'eman ('09) founded the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, and was appointed by President Obama to the National Council on Disability. He now runs his own company.
  • Stacy Milburn ('09) and Micah Fialka-Feldman ('12) were both appointed to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

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