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Interns on board: UNH students assist regional nonprofits

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

July 16. 2018 9:53AM

Nelson Thomas has been working as an intern this summer at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England in Bedford. (COURTESY)



DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire has 25 interns participating in a social innovation internship program that focuses on helping regional nonprofits and mission-driven businesses.

Riley Kenney of Warner is studying anthropology and minoring in business. The soon-to-be senior is interning at New Hampshire Charitable Foundation in Concord.

Yulya Spantchak, a senior strategic learning and evaluation officer at the charitable foundation, said Friday this is the first time the nonprofit has brought in an intern through the program. This year they thought they had a good project for a college student to take on during the summer.

The charitable foundation manages nearly 1,900 philanthropic funds created by individuals, families and businesses. About $46 million in grants and scholarships were distributed in 2017. Spantchak said it provides funding for low-income students with potential.

Kenney was tasked with analyzing data sets and surveying past scholarship recipients to help the organization understand its outcomes.

“One of the most interesting findings was that 77 percent of graduates were employed and 57 percent were employed in their field of study,” Spantchak said.

Kenney said 54 percent of the scholarship recipients decided to go to school in New Hampshire. After college graduation, 83 percent reported living in state, meaning many are moving back to the Granite State after earning their degrees.

Also, according to Kenney, 93 percent of the 474 surveyed students completed college. About 33 percent of those students were the first in their families to earn a degree.

Kenney said he applied for the nine-week paid internship because he wanted the work and research experience. Interns earn a $3,000 stipend.

“I thought it was all around one of the best options,” Kenney said. “Anthropology is a broad profession. It really extends to everyday life.”

Nelson Thomas, who will be a junior this fall, said the internship program has taught him how to balance being a student-athlete and working. He is a safety on UNH’s football team.

“It’s taught me quite a bit. It’s taught me time management. With playing football and working 50 miles away, I wake up at 5:30 every day to work out,” Thomas said.

Thomas grew up in Plainfield, N.J., and began getting involved in social issues while studying at Kent School in Kent, Conn. When he got to UNH, he was recruited to become part of the student-athlete advisory committee, and he is now co-president.

Thomas has been working this summer with Nick Martin, the director of public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England in Bedford.

Martin said the company has acquired a bunch of new territory and tripled in size to a 3,800-person company. It previously had one manufacturing plant and 11 facilities. Now, the company has three manufacturing plants and 29 facilities in its region.

Martin said Thomas was tasked with cataloging company community partnerships in a seven-state territory.

Coca-Cola typically is involved in helping the Special Olympics, Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA in its local communities, Martin said, with community engagement one of the company’s priorities.

Martin said Thomas has been great to work with.

“He had a real interest in that area. It just aligned really well,” Martin said.

Fiona Wilson, the executive director of the Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, says the program is open to all UNH students, regardless of which campus they attend. It started seven years ago and is run by staff at the Carsey School of Public Policy and Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics.

Wilson said they work with a number of nonprofits and mission-driven businesses.

“We look for organizations that can really define and articulate a project,” Wilson said. “We have a really firm belief internships, and these high-impact programs, can change a life.”


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