2005 PFIG Recipient Winnie Kellog

Career Administrator

Winnie Kellog
College of Arts & Sciences
American Studies Major
2006 Graduation Year

Internship: Communities in Schools

Notes on the first week

I have just begun the third week of my internship at a non-profit organization in Houston called Communities in Schools. As stated in their mission, "CIS offers six core services to address the physical, emotional, and academic needs of at-risk children, providing them access to a full spectrum of services." These six core services include: parental involvement, tutoring and mentoring, career awareness, supportive guidance, cultural enrichment, and referrals. The unique part of CIS, I think, is that the organization works directly within schools. Each of the 104 schools has a CIS project manager who ensures that these at-risk kids have access to the six core services by providing various programs and forming a firm relationship with each CIS child.

This summer I am working in CIS’ central office in the development and partnerships department. This particular department writes grants, coordinates fund-raising events, develops partnerships within the community, and plans educational opportunities for its students, such as field trips to the theater and legal internships during the summer months. My job as the intern has been to do the work this under-staffed department has never had time to do. I have begun reorganizing and streamlining the documentation of their grants writing process with a program called Raiser’s Edge. I have also been able to unleash creative talents I was unaware of by becoming the resident art director. On my second day of work, my boss asked if I wouldn’t mind creating a display for all the materials from their past events and publications. Using just colored computer paper, scissors, and a glue stick, I have created ten displays, and still have more to do. I am also working on pitching the new advertising campaign to local radio stations.

I am not sure what else this internship has in store for me, but I am excited about it, nonetheless. I have enjoyed what I have learned thus far, both about myself (I certainly didn’t know I was so creatively inclined) as well as the business of a non-profit, and am eager to keep learning.

Midway

I came into my internship at Communities In Schools with an objective. Throughout my third year, I was continually conflicted about if I wanted to work for a non-profit oriented towards children or pursue my interest in medicine (seemingly opposite sides of the job search spectrum, I know). I wanted to use this experience as a tool for deciding where I should direct my job search this upcoming year. (4th year: yikes!)

Throughout this summer, I have been the “on-call” employee at CIS. As an under-staffed organization, I have continually been there to do those things that the full-time staff does not really have the time to do. Most of these jobs, though, have required me to sit at a desk, behind a computer most of the day. And, I have realized this is not the type of work I really like. I certainly have enjoyed my time at CIS, but now know I need a much more active job.

I have always been interested in a medicine, and this summer has really shed some light on that interest. With a medically-oriented internship in the fall at Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center, I plan to pursue this interest even more. And hopefully, I can eventually combine my passion for working with children and my interest in medicine.

Thank you, Parents’ Fund, for providing me with this invaluable learning experience!

Final Reflections

As my summer internship at Communities In Schools Houston drew to close, the local political climate made the Resource Development department of CIS an exciting, yet tense place to be.

First, from 2000 until last summer, Houston Independent School District (HISD) was in a state of transition. HISD's superintendent, Dr. Rod Paige, accepted his appointment as Secretary of Education in 2000, and since then HISD experienced a series of interim superintendents. In June 2004, Dr. Abelardo Saavedra was appointed HISD's Superintendent of Schools, but it was not until this summer that he began to make drastic administrative and structural changes to the nation's seventh largest school district. This summer, zoning lines were redrawn, a new administrative hierarchy was created, and allocation of schools' monies was changed. Furthermore, CIS's funding was reduced (even though this organization is Houston's most successful drop-out prevention program). These changes certainly impacted CIS. The organization had to withdraw from a dozen or so schools just weeks before school started, meaning hundreds of Houston's poorest children would no longer have access to the social services CIS provides, as well as sudden lay-offs for the project managers at those schools.

Moreover, the state legislature had to call two special legislative sessions to create a new method for distributing income to school districts. The Robinhood redistribution of income, in which money was taken from wealthier districts and given to poorer districts, was found unconstitutional. However, with billions of dollars at stake, the House and the Senate could not agree on a new method to fund Texas' schools. When I left CIS in August, just a week and a half before school started, nothing had been decided.

Thus, CIS's Resource Development department was in a crunch. Responsible for securing funds for the organization, CIS now has to rely much more heavily on funding from corporations' benevolence and private foundations. Working at CIS this summer, I realized the minimal value we place in our educational system and the fragility of its funding.