Cornell University

Cornell Work Study Program Supports Town-Gown Career Development

Friday, January 18, 2019

From left, Janet Cotraccia and Dawna Badie; Courtesy Sheryl Sinkow

By Greg Foster

Holding a remote, Cornell University sophomore, Dawna Badie, stood in front of 250 guests at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County Women’s Fund Luncheon—and took a deep breath. Would the platform work? Her supervisor at the Foundation, Chief Impact Officer, Janet Cotraccia, wanted to engage attendees and gather real-time feedback on values related to prioritizing social investments. Badie’s expertise with a new platform would be put to the test. As real-time votes began popping into view on the massive screen at the front of the ballroom, Badie could exhale.

Every year, Community Foundation convenes community members to recognize the good work of local non-profit organizations dedicated to making a difference in the lives of women in Tompkins County. This year, Cotraccia, who oversees the strategic vision for Community Foundation’s grant-making, enlisted Badie to assist with design and execution of a key presentation for the luncheon.

Just about two months earlier, Badie joined Community Foundation in the role of Community Impact Associate - a position made possible, in part, by Cornell’s Community Work Study Program (CWSP) which supports placement of federal work study (FWS) eligible students in hourly paid positions with not-for-profit agencies. Students participating in CWSP are paid wages from a combination of work study and agency funding with FWS subsidizing 75% of gross wages and the agency paying 25%.

To date, under Cotraccia’s supervision, Badie has participated in a rigorous review process for grant-making, provided critical feedback on applications and engaged in dynamic discussions with other review team members. Badie has also conducted research related to women in poverty in Tompkins County, managed grant processing and written correspondence related to the awarding of Foundation grants to over 40 organizations for more than $200,000. 

Badie reports that “[w]orking at Community Foundation has given me a really holistic view of issues facing the community and provided me with an eye-opening experience with the philanthropic sector that I will build on for the rest of my career. I am especially appreciative of the opportunity to see real applications of the concepts I learn about in class, and to apply my experiences to discussion in the classroom.”  

Community Foundation worked with the Cornell Public Service Center, which administers the CWSP, to design and fund Badie’s position. The CWSP helps Cornell financial-aid students who have received an FWS award to work off campus. The program partners with over 50 non-profit organizations or sites at any given time, and participating students work in numerous areas, including day care, education, health services, legal services, environmental issues, urban planning, public works, and the arts.

“CWSP made the process of hiring a student easy and affordable. They provided materials and information in a clear and timely manner. Dawna brings valuable skills to our team in addition to a fresh perspective which advances impact in our community.” says Cotraccia.

In addition to CWSP, Cornell students and employers can also consider the Design Your Own (DYO) internship program. The DYO Program is an opportunity for students to apply their summer work study funds to an internship outside of Tompkins County. The DYO employer pays the student, at least minimum wage, as wages are earned through their payroll system. Cornell reimburses the employer in the fall for a percentage for the student's summer wages with federal work study funds.

As Cornellians begin to focus on summer 2019 experiences, and with the Cornell Career Services Spring Career Fair (Spring Career Fair) fast approaching, now is a good time for students and employers to consider how CWSP may help drive opportunities.

The Spring Career Fair, happening February 19, will bring students and employers together to discuss potential jobs, internships and careers. Both students and employers may find that the CWSP is just what they need to craft a meaningful and fulfilling summer opportunity.

As Executive Director of Cornell Career Services, Rebecca McMillan Sparrow works to connect Cornell students with meaningful, career-oriented experiential activities. Sparrow says “[s]tudents have so many opportunities to engage in work that makes a real impact—as Dawna is doing right here in Tompkins County—and there are several funding sources to help make it happen. Students can learn more about options at the Spring Career Fair or the Work That Matters panel (February 19), our program on sponsored internships (March 12), or the Social Justice Career Fair (March 14).”

Students and employers can learn more about both the DYO program and CWSP. Students can also learn more about, and register for, upcoming career events.

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