For Immediate Release 
January 13, 2020 

Danielle Germain, 

The grant allows Pay Our Interns to broaden its areas of investigation beyond government and into colleges and career centers.

Washington, DC — Today, Pay Our Interns was awarded a $200,000 grant  from Lumina Foundation’s Racial Justice and Equity fund to research inequities in the internship economy. The funds allow the organization to expand its areas of investigation on unpaid internships into colleges and career centers, compare resources available in college career centers of minority-serving institutions relative to elite institutions, and look at how institutions use college credits for internships in lieu of monetary compensation. 

Last summer, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) concluded: white students were more likely to have been paid interns; Black students were more likely to be unpaid interns; and Latinx students were more likely to have never interned at all. Specifically, 74 percent of white students had paid internships, but only 6 percent of Black students and less than 8 percent of Latinx students had paid internship experience.

“Internships have become essential in today’s economy, but when they are unpaid, they exclude people from marginalized communities, who cannot afford to work without pay. Our goal is to create an equitable solution across all sectors of the economy,” said Carlos Mark Vera, Executive Director and Co-founder of Pay Our Interns. “This grant will fund essential, original research that will illuminate how colleges and universities support and connect students to internships.” 

When accounting for housing, food, and transportation, an internship can cost approximately $6,000. Factor in tuition to earn academic credit as compensation, instead of pay, and unpaid internships can cost a student up to $13,000. Many students, especially students of color who often come from lower-income families, face barriers when trying to participate in internships, including high-cost unpaid internships. Ensuring more students have access to paid internships would solve part of the inequities students face when trying to enter the labor market after college.

In June 2017, Pay Our Interns published original research that analyzed the landscape of congressional internships and found 90 percent of House of Representative members did not offer paid internships. In 2020, Pay Our Interns partnered with James Jones, Ph.D., and released the Color of Congress. The report details major racial disparities among Hill interns and shows internships remain racially segregated. 

Pay Our Interns was founded in 2016 and led by two formerly unpaid interns of color. It focuses on fighting to ensure all students—especially Black, Latinx, and Native American students—have equitable access to professional career paths through the implementation of paid internships countrywide. Pay Our Interns seeks to ensure individuals from all backgrounds are represented across industries impacting their communities and develop pathways for advancement. In doing so, Pay Our Interns creates a more equitable workforce, more diverse leadership, and a more just world. 

Stay updated on our work and join the conversation about economic justice for young people by following Pay Our Interns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.