A partnership between two workforce development organizations in Maine has launched a program designed to promote racial and cultural equity among student internship opportunities in the state.

Maine Career Catalyst, a partnership between FocusMaine and Educate Maine that facilitates and encourages experiential learning – including internships, apprenticeships and co-ops for students working in Maine – has launched a program to increase the equity of access to these opportunities for students of color from all cultures and backgrounds.

The Equity in Internships Program was created as part of a $50,000 grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation to reduce barriers that have prevented students of color from accessing internships as part of a pathway to a career in Maine, the groups said in a news release Thursday.

The program will support racial equity and increase experiential learning opportunities for students of color who are facing financial barriers to help them realize their career goals, they said. Up to 20 stipends of $1,000 each will be awarded to cover necessary out-of-pocket costs, including transportation, room and board, and other internship-related costs.

“Internships and other experiential learning opportunities give students the opportunity to explore different industries and employers, and to make connections that will help them achieve their career goals,” Kate Howell, program director of Educate Maine, said in the release. “Unfortunately, costs associated with participating in these programs can sometimes be a barrier to this important career-building opportunity. Our goal with this program is to level the playing field.”

Applications are now being accepted online at mainecareercatalyst.org/students/. The deadline for submissions is May 21, with the recipients announced on May 28.

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