Students Address Community Problems Through Internship Program

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A summer internship program is underway that connects students with mentors to develop solutions to problems in the community.

The 2024 Civic Innovation Transforming Youngstown Internship Program started June 10 and will run for eight weeks with 13 interns. The CITY program, now in its third year, is a collaboration between Youngstown State University and the Economic Action Group.

Interns are partnered with community mentors from the Youngstown Community Planning & Economic Development and water departments, Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and the Healthy Community Partnership to create projects for the betterment of the community. 

Hazel Marie, YSU distinguished professor of mechanical engineering, called the program a “unique engaged-learning internship program that is the embodiment of the YSU vision, where community engagement is a cornerstone of collaboration that collectively contributes to the sustainable prosperity of the region and beyond.”

The program is rooted in the Community-Engaged Educational Ecosystem Model Internship Program, piloted by the University of Notre Dame and its Center for Civic Innovation.

The National Science Foundation funds the CITY program through a four-year grant. 

Students are divided into four teams and paired with a community mentor to provide professional guidance. Under the supervision of local high school teachers as site coordinators, interns work with their teams to identify creative solutions for the community issues they are presented with.

“We are excited for another year of immersing talented students in the Youngstown community, allowing them to use their knowledge to create transformative community solutions,” said Nick Chretien, executive director of the Economic Action Group. “The CITY program empowers local students to address real-world community challenges and prepares them to become the future stewards of the Mahoning Valley.” Chretien also highlighted the unique advantages of the community’s scale, explaining that the manageable size enables student projects and ideas to have an impact on the city’s development.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.