We are Selecting our 1st Class of DMI Scholars
In September 2006 we launched the DMI Scholars program to put progressive college activists on the pathway to careers in public policy.
We're happy to report that we received 113 applications from over 80 schools and 20 organizations. Our applicants are very diverse, with a majority of students of color and young women and a strong representation of immigrant and LGBT communities. Their top policy interests reflect a broad range of activism on challenges including immigration, public education and poverty. We have selected our finalists and are welcoming them to New York on March 16 for their in-person interviews.
We have quite a sharp applicant pool. One young, committed activist who desperately wants to enter the public policy field told us that her school recently instituted a 6-week internship requirement. Within 3 days, her more affluent and connected peers had found placements. She told me, "These people didn't even have time to submit an application! They knew people. I want to know people so that I can enter the world of public policy and make a difference." She needs support, training, and a network. With DMI Scholars, she will find it.
The launch and vigorous development of DMI Scholars has been a collaborative effort. After taking our program to focus groups of students, activists and policy makers, DMI launched an aggressive national recruitment campaign in partnership with important organizations working with young people, like Campus Progress, Wellstone Action, United States Students Association, United Students Against Sweatshops, and the League of Young Voters. Our comprehensive outreach included direct recruitment at community colleges, on historically black campuses and a range of universities across the nation. DMI Scholars was also invited to the Young People For Annual summit in January where we led a workshop on the progressive public policy sector for sixty college students. Critical to our outreach has been our media strategy and to this end we have built a significant presence on the blogosphere with features on blogs like HuffingtonPost, Americans for Informed Democracy, the New York Daily News, Breaking Blue and Future Majority. We have also been profiled in a variety of other media including WireTap Mag and Democracy Matters newsletters, and the Maroon Tiger, the campus newspaper of Morehouse College.
The next few weeks will be busy with final selection and the development of our Summer Institute. We will host our Advisory Council of policy influencers to inform our curriculum development. DMI Scholars continues to build partnerships with organizations like Center for Community Change, Center for Social Inclusion and PolicyLink to sponsor internships for our Scholars in summer 2008.
One applicant's cover letter states, "I am convinced that a placement in this program will give me the opportunity to further enhance my understanding of the ways in which young progressives like myself can effectively change the direction of public policies." Indeed!