Commonwealth Innovative Internship Fund and Program

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VTOP logoOverview: In 2018, the Virginia General Assembly appropriated funding to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to stimulate public colleges and universities to develop partnerships to provide innovative paid internship opportunities for their students. In 2019, the effort was expanded and enacted into law as the Innovative Internship Fund and Program.

Purpose : The purpose of the program is to expand paid and credit-bearing student internships and other work-based learning opportunities in collaboration with Virginia employers. The program comprises institutional grants and a statewide initiative to facilitate the readiness of students, employers and institutions of higher education to participate in internship and other work-based learning opportunities.

Informational Webinar

In December 2022, SCHEV staff offered an informational webinar about the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership. The slide deck describes the purpose of the initiative, the benefits of internships, history, readiness resources developed for employers, students and institutions of higher education, and action opportunities for participants.

Grants to Institutions

Transforming Federal Work-Study -  Call for Applications
Recognizing the diversity of Virginia’s higher education institutions and the fact that institutions are at various stages in the process, the intent of this call for applications is to support institutions wherever they are at in their journey to transform federal work-study (FWS) jobs to be internships/more internship-like while adhering to federal policy requirements for FWS. 

Round 3 Call for Proposals

Institutional Readiness: Internship and Work-Based Learning

New Eligibility Guidelines for Institutions
In addition to accepting grant applications on a rolling basis, SCHEV is pleased to announce that nonprofit private institutions of higher education that participate in the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) Program are now eligible to apply.

Round 4 Call for Proposals

Regional Collaboratives
One application may be submitted from each GO Virginia region to support regional collaborative efforts to connect employers to students and assure the readiness of employers, students and institutions to increase significantly the number of high-quality paid internships and other work-based learning opportunities.

Professional Development Scholarships

Scholarships for professional development are available to professionals currently working in the field and to graduate students in selected degree programs whose career involves connecting students, institutions of higher education and the employer community with the goal of expanding paid and credit-bearing internship and other work-based learning opportunities (job shadowing, tours, mentorship, externships, apprenticeships, field experiences, etc.). Details are available on the Professional Development Scholarship page.

Statewide Initiative

In August 2020, six work groups were formed. Members were volunteers from public and private institutions of higher education and state agencies. Several work groups completed their efforts and two work groups have merged with a revision of the purpose. Click on the work group title for more detailed information for each group:

  1. Employer Toolkit (now Employer Modules): A major deliverable of this group was completed in December 2020 with the publication by the Virginia Chamber Foundation of the Virginia Employer Readiness Toolkit: A Blueprint to Develop Quality Internship Opportunities for Virginia’s Talent Pipeline. The toolkit is available on the employer tab of the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership website. Members were invited to continue their service for Phase 2: Development of online modules to support employers that want to start a new internship program. The content of the modules will be based on the contents of the toolkit. This work group will now be known as the Employer Modules work group.

  2. Remote Work-Based Experiences (formerly Virtual Work-Based Experiences): The purpose of this work group is to share information about remote internship models and other approaches for remote delivery of work-based experiential learning and to contribute best practices to the Employer Toolkit work group (above). With the completion of the toolkit and the development of FAQs related to remote experiences (soon to be published on the Virginia TOP website), this work group will meet intermittently as needed.

  3. Student Readiness: Members determined that student readiness should be aligned with the revised competencies and sample behaviors developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers and published in May 2021. The members of a second work group, below, made the same determination. Therefore, these two groups will merge and be known as the Student Modules Work Group.

  4. Work-Ready Experiences (formerly Pre-Internship Experiences): Members determined that any work-based experience designed specifically for freshmen and sophomores should be aligned with the revised competencies and sample behaviors developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers and published in May 2021. The members of a second work group, above, made the same determination. Therefore, these two groups will merge and be known as the Student Modules Work Group.

  5. Technology, Data and Measures of Success: Discuss and document current use of technology to (i) connect employers and students, (ii) deliver online preparation and support to students before and during an internship, (iii) facilitate remote/virtual work-based learning, (iv) collect data on student participation in work-based learning, and (v) track progress (including tracking employers who are certified as internship ready). Recommend technology needed. Determine baseline and recommend targets for the statewide initiative. The work of this group is ongoing. The focus in 2020 was on determining what data are available related to student participation in work-based learning. The members developed questions that institutions can add to exit surveys and the First Destination Survey of graduates. The focus for 2021 will be on the delivery of online preparation and support to students and employers and tracking completers as well as choosing metrics that will indicate progress of the statewide initiative.

  6. Professional Development: The original purpose of this work group was to gather, validate and share existing professional development materials that support personnel at all levels of institutions who facilitate internships and other work-based learning experiences, including faculty, program-, school- and department-level staff, and career services personnel. Identify gaps, collaborate with the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers professional development committee, recommend action to fill the gaps and expand resources. The members determined that the first priority was to create a scholarship program for professional development for practitioners and graduate students who plan to enter the field of career services. The scholarship program will launch July 1, 2021. The group also learned about Career Champion and Career Influencer networks at some institutions. Later in 2021, a Call for Volunteers will be issued to form more focused professional development work groups to: (i) review scholarship applications and recommend awards; (ii) discuss an annual event; and (iii) determine the feasibility of creating online modules for professional development at institutions that want to launch a campus-wide program similar to Career Champion or Career Influencer.

  7. Transforming Federal Work-Study.  Input from the work group shaped this resultant toolkit document. The toolkit will assist institutions by providing guidance and solutions as they make decisions, create policy, overcome regulatory barriers, etc., and transform some FWS jobs to be internships or at least, more internship-like. The toolkit will subsequently inform a request for proposals (RFP) for competitive grants available to institutions to plan or implement transformed FWS programs.