$5M Mellon grant to boost humanities-based internship programs at CCNY

The City College of New York is the recipient of a $5 million grant from The Mellon Foundation to establish paid internship programs for students in the Division of Humanities and the Arts. The funding is part of Mellon’s ongoing commitment to expanding access to humanities-based learning and a renewed effort to raise awareness of the employability of humanities majors among undergraduates.
Despite reports from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences that show both the employment and compensation rates of humanities bachelor’s degree holders as competitive with their counterparts in the behavioral, social, and life sciences, widespread misconception about humanities study being disconnected from the world of work continues to persist. CCNY’s proposed humanities internship program combined with Mellon’s humanities internship grants aim to make internship participation more widely available for humanities majors, thereby increasing awareness that humanities study continues to offer viable career pathways to students.
“While it is obvious from the data that humanities majors regularly graduate into jobs that they find both emotionally and financially rewarding, that message has not reached students or their families,” said Phillip Brian Harper, program director for Higher Learning at Mellon. “The internships funded through these grants will make it clear that humanities study leads not just to jobs, but to exciting career paths in a wide range of sectors.”
CCNY will build on existing initiatives in career preparation to establish a comprehensive humanities internship program that will enhance humanities students’ access to internship opportunities in the nonprofit and public sectors. CCNY will develop an online database tracking internship and job placements of humanities majors. At least 250 internships will be funded by the grant over five years. 
Among the ways that the program will create new internship opportunities for students, it will expand the innovative course structure that the Division piloted with a National Endowment for the Humanities American Recovery Program (ARP) grant: Humanities Experiential Learning Partnership Seminars (HELPS) allow academic work and the activities of an internship to support each other.
“We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for funding this exciting program which will open up new internship opportunities for our students in the Humanities. This real-world experience will provide our students with the tools they need, not just for the job market when they graduate, but to become cultural and social change-makers,” said CCNY Provost Tony Liss.
Dean of the Division of Humanities and the Arts Renata Kobetts Miller describes the Mellon grant as “transformational” for the Division’s academic programs: “We have never before been able to offer such comprehensive support for students to explore the wide array of future careers that their Humanities and Arts degrees prepare them powerfully to pursue. This is an unprecedented opportunity for us, and we’re excited to build a new program and secure additional sources of long-term support for it.”

The funding is an effort to enhance awareness about post-collegiate employment prospects for humanities majors, thus promoting the study of the humanities among undergraduates. It is part of a $25 million grant to establish paid internships for humanities majors at five public colleges and universities, including CCNY, California State University at Fresno, Old Dominion University, University of Missouri at Kansas City and University of North Carolina Greensboro.
About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities.  Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there.  Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. Education research organization Degree Choices ranks CCNY #1 nationally among universities for economic return on investment. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi (now Lightcast) puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. This year, CCNY launched its most expansive fundraising campaign, ever. The campaign, titled “Doing Remarkable Things Together” seeks to bring the College’s Foundation to more than $1 billion in total assets in support of the College mission. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.

Thea Klapwald
e:  tklapwald@ccny.cuny.edu