Posted 7:50 a.m. Monday, March 21, 2022
New initiative supports experiential learning at local nonprofits
A new fellowship initiative will provide UW-La Crosse students with high-impact learning opportunities at two local nonprofit organizations.
The initiative, funded by longtime La Crosse educators Ron and Jane Rada, funds three $12,000 year-long fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students at WisCorps and the La Crosse Community Foundation.
The Community Engaged Fellowships resemble closely mentored internships. They will provide hands-on experience with the potential for students to take on independent projects related to their field of study.
"We established the Community Engaged Fellowships as a philanthropic, pilot initiative to capitalize on the strengths of both UWL and organizations within the region,” the Radas explain. “This initiative aligns with UWL’s strategic focus to strengthen community engagement and supports the Wisconsin Idea, which are important to us as educators and longtime residents of the state.”
To be eligible, students must:
- Have a graduation date of May 2023 or May 2024 (graduate students may apply)
- Declare a major in a related field of study
- Agree to a one-year commitment with a flexible start date between May 16 and June 1, 2022.
Students meeting these criteria can find application instructions here. Applications must be submitted before April 6.
This is an opportunity, according to UWL Community Engagement Coordinator Lisa Klein, in which “everybody wins.”
"The college students get a paid internship-style experience where they are mentored by a community partner and receive a hands-on learning opportunity,” she says. “The non-profit gets a free resource which is in high demand right now: people."
UWL’s community partners say they’re excited about the possibilities created by the fellowships. Two fellowships will be with WisCorps, and one will be with the La Crosse Community Foundation.
“Being chosen as one of the hosts for a UWL Community Engaged Fellowship is an incredible opportunity for the La Crosse Community Foundation,” says Jamie Schloegel, executive director of the foundation. “Not only do we see the partnership as a tool to help entice quality talent to the nonprofit workforce, but it will also help us increase our own capacity to support area nonprofits in addition to our grantmaking programs.”
Schloegel says the La Crosse Community Foundation’s fellow will be actively engaged in the services offered through its new nonprofit resource center.
“Advancing the success of our local nonprofits is a win not just for us, but for our whole community,” she notes.
Matthew Brantner, executive director of WisCorps, says he’s excited to grow the agency’s partnership with UWL.
“We’ve had a great relationship with UWL over the years and have had students help us in various roles,” he says. “Having these fellowships allows us to build our departments and intentionally give those students skills that will help them in the next step of their careers. It’s a forward-thinking idea, and we hope this will be a catalyst for other Community Engaged Fellowship opportunities with other agencies in the community.”
The Radas have a similar hope in mind — that their donation will inspire others to support Community Engaged Fellowships in the future.
“Our goal,” they say, “is that this initiative will serve as a catalyst for greater philanthropic support of experiential learning and will expand to other public and private sectors going forward."
Eligible students are encouraged to apply before the application window closes April 6. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
Questions should be directed to TJ Brooks, dean of the College of Business Administration: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.uwlax.edu/community/community-engaged-fellowship.