Nothing has ever changed simply because people talked about it. Changing the world requires engaging with it. It’s why we pursue and develop action-oriented partnerships with organizations and communities, both near and far.
Ensuring Internships are Accessible to All
Internships have become increasingly important as gateways to employment post-graduation. They are also crucial opportunities for students to learn about themselves, identify passions, and enhance career skills. However, often offered with low, or no pay, or in locations that require students to incur additional temporary living expenses, internships remain out of reach for many.
The implications of this arrangement are long-lasting and disproportionately impact students from underserved populations – a group George Mason is very familiar with. In fact, of School of Business students over 40 percent of are the first in their family to attend college, over 30 percent receive Pell Grants, and only 25 percent identify as white Americans.
To address the barriers inherent in the current internship system, B4BW, working in tandem with Career Services, has established the Internship Access Award. The program provides funding to students that makes it possible for them to accept unpaid or low-paid internships. It also features fellowships to support students completing unpaid internships throughout the academic year and summer, as well as grants to cover living expenses while students complete an unpaid internship away from home.
Structure and mentorship are important elements of getting the most from experiential learning opportunities like internships. In addition to providing monetary support, we will provide an Impact Internship course through which students will earn course credit for their internship and receive guidance from a faculty member. If the student does not already have one, the Impact Internship program will provide a professional mentor to each student during the period of the internship.
Improving Health Access for the Underserved
In coordination with the Mason and Partners Clinics (MAP Clinic), free medical clinics that serve the uninsured and refugee community in Northern Virginia, B4BW was awarded a $175,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente to ensure improved health and wellness outcomes for the Bailey’s/Culmore community and serve as a model for other communities in the future.
Working with MVLE, a Northern Virginia nonprofit organization dedicated to providing employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities and other barriers, B4BW carries out its goal to be a force for the public good. Through this partnership, individuals at MVLE will become budding entrepreneurs as they make candles from beeswax.
Our Honey Bee Initiative also operates in both Perú and Colombia, with the goal in mind of using sustainable beekeeping to empower local communities and drive economic development. In Perú, we’ve worked with community beekeepers to establish vertical hives, expand their colonies, create a market for honey and bee-related products, and integrate forest conservation into the community culture. Designed to empower communities through sustainable beekeeping, our work in Colombia was recognized in 2020 as the 15th best overall social and environmental project in Latin America and the Caribbean by the Latinoamérica Verde awards.
Developing Social Businesses
Modeled off of our largest and most successful social incubator, the Honey Bee Initiative, efforts have begun to establish a social incubator to effect social change by creating projects and social businesses that create employment and generates income for people at or below the poverty level. We plan to provide mentoring, physical space, and seed money.