Internships at CDF

Since its inception, the Children's Defense Fund has welcomed hundreds of college students and recent graduates to participate as interns in CDF's mission to Leave No Child Behind®. Whether at CDF's national office in Washington, DC, or at one of CDF’s state offices, interns have proven vital to CDF's work. Interns provide administrative and program support to CDF's professional staff; draft memoranda on current and future policy issues, conduct research, track legislative activities, attend hearings and coalition meetings, and participate in a wide-range of other CDF activities.

CDF interns gain knowledge, skills and experience for a lifetime commitment as a child advocate and public policy leader; get an insider's view of non-profit advocacy and become a part of our strong network of servant leaders.

Term

Typical Months

For Best Consideration

Summer

June - August February 1
     
Fall September - December July 1
     
Spring January - April November 1
     

Learn more about our different internship programs, apply and visit our FAQs below.

Policy

CDF’s Policy group seeks interns to work on the issues described below. Interns might work on a single issue or on multiple issues depending on need and interest:

Child Health 

The Child Health staff works to ensure that every child has a Healthy Start in life.  Their primary policy goal is to ensure all children have access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage that is easy to get and to keep.  Work includes policy analysis, legislative and administrative advocacy, research and coalition building around implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the federal budget, and other elements of maternal and child health policy.

Child Welfare and Mental Health

The Child Welfare and Mental Health staff works to improve outcomes for children and youth by promoting public policies, practices and programs that will keep children safe and in permanent nurturing families and communities. Particular attention is given to those policies and programs that serve or advocate for children who have been abused or neglected, or are at risk of abuse and neglect; are in families challenged by substance abuse, mental health problems and domestic violence; are being raised by grandparents or other relatives; have serious emotional problems and need mental health services, and/or are at risk of coming to the attention of the child welfare system. CDF uses a range of advocacy strategies to address these concerns.

Early Childhood Policy

CDF fully supports the need for consistent, quality education beginning in a child’s earliest years. CDF's early childhood staff works to promote high quality early childhood experiences for ALL children. One of the main areas of work is spearheading the national campaign to focus public attention on ensuring all children have access to free full-day kindergarten. CDF works with other early childhood advocates and professionals to promote additional funding for programs serving low income children birth through five years of age.

Education Policy

CDF is committed to ensuring that every child in America attends a school that is warm, welcoming and where learning happens.  CDF intends to transform the Cradle to Prison Pipeline into a system where every child has the opportunity to grow, learn and maximize their potential.  CDF’s seeks to achieve those goals by: reforming school discipline policies that push children out of school, ensuring all children have access to full-day kindergarten and strengthening the Title I program that provides federal funding for the education of children in concentrated poverty.

Juvenile Justice

CDF strives to ensure that fewer children encounter the juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system and that those who do receive the help they need to thrive.  To that end, efforts are made to address the holistic needs of children and youth (1) at the front end (prevention and diversion), (2) during time spent in the juvenile justice or adult criminal justice systems, and (3) the back end (upon release and reentry into the community).  Focusing on these three points will allow the “justice” part of juvenile justice to have true meaning by focusing on youth development, rehabilitation, and family engagement/strengthening families.  CDF’s juvenile justice work includes advocacy, coalition building, policy analysis, and research.

Policy Research

The research team within CDF’s policy unit supports the organization’s policy efforts by analyzing data, preparing timely and pertinent reports and fact sheets, and conducting rapid response research for internal and external data requests. Policy research interns will work across all of CDF’s issue areas, identifying federal and other data for use in fact sheets, reports, and other CDF publications. Policy research interns will also summarize new reports, attend briefings and hearings, and research issues areas to support the policy team’s work. This opportunity is ideal for applicants seeking a broad exposure to all of CDF’s policy issue areas. 

CDF has a long history of publishing reports that raise awareness about children’s needs and highlight solutions (See our Research Library on the CDF website). CDF seeks masters level interns to assist with analysis of data and research to support development of CDF publications across a range of issues. Policy research interns will work across all of CDF’s issue areas, analyzing federal and other data for use in fact sheets, reports, and other CDF publications. Possible issues that interns might work on include: child poverty, health care access, education, early childhood, juvenile justice, child welfare and gun violence. This opportunity is ideal for applicants with a quantitative background and an interest in social justice for children.

Preferred Policy Research Qualifications:

  • Strong quantitative skills. Basic statistics background.
  • Basic knowledge of Stata or SPSS. Strong excel skills.
  • Experience with federal data sources (Census, NCHS, HHS, DOE, etc.)
  • Commitment to social advocacy and CDF’s mission to be a voice for all children in America.

Policy Internship Primary Responsibilities:

  • Identifying and researching initiatives in health, early childhood development, education, poverty, child welfare, gun violence, juvenile and criminal justice to address the needs of children and families
  • Tracking and analyzing federal and state legislation
  • Monitoring, analyzing, and summarizing policy developments,  the federal budget, research briefs and studies that relate to children, low income families, and other key issue areas
  • Attending hearings and briefings, both on and off Capitol Hill, that are relevant to CDF’s work, and writing succinct summaries to share with the policy team 
  • Contributing to the development of issue briefs, fact sheets, and other materials relevant to our work for publication or the website
  • Rapid response research for internal and external data requests
  • Participating in the educational component of the CDF internship program, including luncheons, seminars, and trips
  • Other duties and projects as assigned

Policy Internship Preferred Qualifications:

  • Ability to work effectively and calmly in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment with daily deadlines
  • Strong organizational and analytical skills
  • Ability to organize facts and present issues in a clear, concise, and logical manner, both orally and in writing
  • Strong internet research skills
  • Self-starter who is comfortable working independently
  • Demonstrated interest in learning about policies that affect children and low-income families.
  • Commitment to social advocacy and CDF’s mission to be a voice for all children in America
  • For those interested in policy research, strong excel skills and ideally experience using a statistical software packaged (Stata or SPSS), and experience with federal data sources (census, NCHS, HHS, DOE, etc.)
Youth Development & Community Outreach

CDF’s Youth Development and Community Outreach Program seeks interns to work on the focus areas described below. Interns might work on a single issue or on multiple issues depending on need and interest:

CDF Freedom Schools®

CDF Freedom Schools programs use CDF's Black Community Crusade for Children® (BCCC)® program and local community-based organizations, churches, public schools and colleges/universities to provide literacy-rich summer programs in communities where those opportunities are limited or nonexistent.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Preparation and delivery of training and technical assistance for local program staff
  • Outreach to current and prospective CDF Freedom Schools program sites
  • Maintaining outreach data base
  • Compiling information packets,  
  • Creating Power Points and other presentation materials,
  • Developing training materials
  • Drafting correspondence
  • Researching best practices in educational and cultural enrichment after-school and summer programs,
  • Create and maintain financial documents on behalf of the Freedom Schools department

Preferred Experience/ Qualifications

  • Excellent judgment and organizational skills with attention to detail
  • Courteous, supportive, and professional demeanor
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to work in a team or individually
  • Ability to work effectively and calmly in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment with daily deadlines
  • Strong organizational and analytical skills
  • Ability to organize facts and present issues in a clear, concise, and logical manner, both orally and in writing
  • Strong internet research skills

The Event Management

The Event Management Intern will play an integral role in the planning and execution of the CDF Freedom Schools® program Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute’s annual meetings. This candidate will work closely with the organizers responsible for planning and executing three annual training events and will need to complete a wide range of activities. This opportunity requiring clear, effective communication, critical thinking, excellent organizational skills, and attention to detail. This opportunity also requires a person able to work both as part of a team and independently. The candidate must be able to work well under pressure, make decisions and ensure the smooth and efficient running of CDF Freedom Schools program events.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Aid in the planning, coordination, and management of training event logistics including: lodging, food and beverage, transportation, and communication.
  • Assists in the execution and day of event management.
  • Assisting in communications around event management including BEOs, timelines, calendars, reports, and diagrams.
  • Working with the logistics team to coordinate staffing and volunteer requirements.
  • Facilitate planning committee meetings including the drafting of agenda items and taking minutes.
  • Drafting correspondence and outreach to current and prospective CDF Freedom Schools program sites.
  • Create and maintain budget documents on behalf of the CDF Freedom Schools program.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Ability to work effectively and calmly in an innovative, fast-paced, high-pressure environment with daily deadlines.
  • Strong project management skills and the ability to handle multiple tasks and changing priorities on a daily basis
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, proof reading skills, the ability to work to deadlines and effectively multi-task; ability to communicate in a professional manner with vendors and CDF Freedom School Program partners
  • Experience using Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook

Youth Leadership and Development

The Youth Leadership and Development team is dynamic and focuses on building future child advocates and organizers throughout the nation.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Preparation and delivery of training and technical assistance for local program staff
  • Outreach to current and prospective CDF Freedom Schools program sites
  • Developing training materials
  • Drafting correspondence and responding to site inquiries
  • Researching best practices in educational and cultural enrichment after-school and summer programs

Preferred qualifications

  • Ability to work alone or in groups to accomplish task.
  • Experience in outreach efforts, such as campaigning or canvassing, preferred.
  • Must display incentive to take the lead on various outreach efforts to expose a large number of people to the work of CDF. A sense of creativity encouraged.
  • Ability to work effectively and calmly in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment with daily deadlines.
  • Strong organizational and execution skills.
  • Commitment to social advocacy and CDF’s mission to be a voice for all children in America.
  • Ability to organize facts and present issues in a clear, concise and logical manner, both orally and in writing.

Beat the Odds® Program

The Beat the Odds® scholarship program honors high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who are working hard to overcome tremendous obstacles in their personal lives, demonstrate academic achievement, and give back to their community.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Administrative and technical assistance for local program staff
  • Communicating with CDF state offices to support program development
  • Outreach to current and former Beat the Odds recipients
  • Drafting correspondence and responding to site inquiries

Preferred qualifications

  • Ability to work alone or in groups to accomplish task
  • Experience in outreach efforts, such as campaigning or canvassing, preferred
  • Must display incentive to take the lead on various outreach efforts to expose a large number of people to the work of CDF. A sense of creativity encouraged.
  • Ability to work effectively and calmly in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment with daily deadlines.
  • Strong organizational and execution skills.
  • Commitment to social advocacy and CDF’s mission to be a voice for all children in America.
  • Ability to organize facts and present issues in a clear, concise and logical manner, both orally and in writing.
Communications

Communications Program Internships

The Communications and Outreach Department develops and articulates key public messaging for all of CDF’s strategic priorities, campaigns and rapid response needs.  The department works with all other CDF departments and state offices to promote CDF’s brand and publicize its priorities with coalition partners through outreach to the media, online social networks, video production and other multimedia, print and online publications, online advocacy and email marketing, website content development and other promotional materials.

The Communications Department is led by Vice President of Communications and Outreach Patti Hassler, a Peabody and Emmy-award-winning journalist and a 30-year veteran of CBS News. She served most of that tenure at 60 Minutes, the most watched newsmagazine in the nation. As a Communications Intern you would have the unique opportunity to work with and learn from her. Learn more here.

CDF’s Communications Team seeks interns to work on the focus areas described below. Interns might work on a single issue or on multiple issues depending on need and interest:

COMMUNICATIONS & MULTIMEDIA

Primary Responsibilities:
  • Attend hearings on the Hill, briefings, and coalition events to take notes or tweet
  • Compose Tweets/Facebook posts for CDF social media
  • Assist with research projects for Mrs. Edelman and the Communication’s department
  • Update press lists, assist in putting together press packets for events
  • Assist with gathering daily news clips relating to CDF issue areas
  • Assist with staffing events, symposia, round tables, discussions, etc.
  • Assist with photography when needed
  • Assist with graphic design & editing when needed
  • Assist in organizing photo archives from CDF’s history
Qualifications:
  • Great oral and written communicator; good writer & researcher
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Basic computer skills including Microsoft Office, web research, scanning, formatting etc.
  • Previous experience in photography and video production preferred (if applicable, send samples)
  • Experience with Photoshop preferred
  • Must be a fast learner and someone who pays attention to detail
  • Someone who is creative, organized, flexible and a fast worker
  • Preferably someone who already is active on social media
  • Archiving experience useful
  • Must have a passion for CDF’s mission
  • NOTE: please indicate if you have a particular expertise or interest in a certain area listed

WEB DESIGN

Interns will work to create interactive and entertaining web content/graphics and to analyze web traffic and emails from the organization.

Primary Responsibilities:
  • Daily website updates for national and state websites
  • Assist Director of Online Communications and Outreach and CDF’s Webmaster with website refresh for multiple CDF websites
  • Create custom graphics for web and social media as needed
  • Assist in email communications development and outreach
  • Assist with social media monitoring and other projects supporting as needed
  • Support online communications initiatives including, email communications, social media, database management, and administrative duties as needed.
Qualifications:
  • Experience with HTML, web content management systems, Excel and Photoshop
  • Experience with Java Script is not required but is a plus
  • Must have a passion for CDF’s mission
  • Must be a fast learner & someone who pays attention to detail
  • Must be a able to create basic website on WordPress or WIX
Non-Profit Management

CDF’s Non-Profit Management Program seeks interns to work in the issues described below. Interns might work on a single issue or on multiple issues depending on need and interest:

Office of the President

The Office of the President is staffed by a team of individuals responsible for coordinating special initiatives and projects and providing administrative and program support to CDF’s founder and President Marian Wright Edelman. Interns assigned to this office work directly under the supervision of the Special Assistant to the President to carry out a variety of tasks needed.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Assist President’s staff with special projects.
  • Develop and maintain President’s database.
  • Web-Based research
  • Drafting of correspondence
  • Assist with mailings and phone banking.
  • Faxing, scanning, photocopying, answering phones, and other administrative duties as assigned.

Preferred Experience/Qualifications

  • Excellent judgment and organizational skills with attention to detail.
  • Capable of working in a fast-paced environment.
  • Courteous, supportive, and professional demeanor.
  • Ability to interact effectively with people at all levels.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work in a team or individually.
  • Commitment to social advocacy and CDF’s mission to be a voice for all children in America.
  • Must display incentive to take the lead on various outreach efforts to expose a large number of people to the work of CDF. A sense of creativity encouraged.
  • A required commitment of approximately 15 hours per week.

Development

Interns will be involved with financial record keeping and basic accounting tasks as well as special projects related to financial processes and records.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Research new foundations, corporations and individuals and depending on experience, apply for funding.
  • Help with quality control of direct mailings, proposals and reports.
  • Assist with organizing the Beat the Odds®; Washington DC 2014 event
  • Help maintain the donor database records.
  • Assist with CDF direct mailings. 
  • Generate reports on current donors, lapsed donors and perspective donors. 
  • Some administrative duties.

Preferred Experience/Qualifications

  • High level of attention to detail.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Ability to work effectively, independently and collaboratively.
  • Commitment to social advocacy and CDF’s mission to be a voice for all children in America.
  • Must display incentive to take the lead on various outreach efforts
  • A sense of creativity is encouraged
  • Declared major/minor in non-profit business management or related field, disciple or experience. 

Human Resources Internships

Interns will be involved with employee outreach and records maintenance.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Benefits package review and maintenance.
  • Organizing and updating electronic records, forms, and files.
  • Organizing and developing employee relations events.
  • May include general office support (including filing and shredding), clerical, and/or data-entry duties.

Preferred Experience/Qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential.
  • A high level of discretion is required.
  • High level of attention to detail.
  • Knowledge of computers and basic office software packages.
  • Ability to work effectively alone or collectively.
  • Creativity and flexibility.
  • A commitment of a minimum of 15 hours per week is required.

Finance

Interns will be involved with financial record keeping and basic accounting tasks as well as special projects related to financial processes and records.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Assisting with account reconciliations.
  • Data entry of accounts payable vouchers.
  • Organizing records and files.
  • Special accounting and finance projects under supervision.
  • May include office support, clerical, and/or filing duties.

Preferred Experience/Qualifications

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Excel.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Discretion.
  • High level of attention to detail.
  • Interest in finance and accounting.
  • Some business and accounting classes helpful.
  • Ability to work effectively individually or collectively.
  • Declared major of Accounting, Finance, or related discipline

Information Technology Internships

This division oversees day-to-day operations of CDF's computer system, develops and implements cost-effective technology strategies to support the attainment of CDF's goals. Priorities include implementation of a centralized database system, development and testing of state-of-the-art software appropriate for an advocacy-driven work environment.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Assist with CDF's Intranet
  • Research existing document management technology tools
  • Explore options for enhancing CDF's existing system
  • Provide staff member’s with first line support for diagnosing and resolving computer related problems.
  • Assist with updating IT policies and procedures. 

Preferred Experience/Qualifications

  • A working knowledge of computer systems and a strong interest in computer technology from an organizational perspective are essential to this internship.

Public Engagement

Interns are responsible for assisting in the coordination of CDF activities and ongoing public events across the country. They must be able to work a minimum of 20 hours per week.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Create and maintain project schedules to ensure deadlines are met.
  • Ensure the accuracy of invitations, RSVP lists, programs, and all related details (such as dietary and physical needs of guests).
  • Coordinate all arrangements such as catering, rentals, flowers and custodial services for event set-ups and clean-up.
  • Guarantee accurate and timely processing of invoices and payments related to such events.
  • Maintain appropriate records and briefings for events.
  • Establish clear communication with appropriate CDF departments.
  • Recruit staff volunteers for events as necessary.
  • Manage special projects upon request.
  • Perform administrative and other related duties as assigned.

Preferred Experience/Qualifications

  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal and problem-solving skills.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Capacity to meet deadlines.
  • A calm demeanor under pressure.
  • Team player who displays a courteous and professional attitude in all interactions with colleagues and guests.
  • Ability to prioritize and manage resources competently in the presence of colleagues and guests.
  • Capability to follow processes and assign job duties to team members as necessary to maximize efficiency.
  • Prior experience in special event coordination, customer service and sales preferred.
Application Guidelines

With typically more than 400 applications per year for about 70 internships, CDF's internship application process is highly selective. For highest consideration, it is important to meet the application deadline and satisfy each of the application components.

Application Deadlines

Term

Typical Months

For Best Consideration

Summer

June - August February 1
     
Fall September - December July 1
     
Spring January - April November 1
     

Application Components

Each applicant must submit the following components on our online application:

  • CDF Internship Application Form
  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • Two References
  • Writing Sample

For any question or concerns, please contact the Internship Coordinator at cdf_interns@childrensdefense.org

Internship Selection Process

CDF requires six to eight weeks from the application deadline to process applications. During that time, the Internship Coordinator will process and evaluate applications and then consult with specific divisions for their decisions. The Internship Coordinator and staff members from divisions will conduct interviews for those applicants under serious consideration for a CDF internship.

Highest consideration is given to those applicants who have demonstrated a strong interest in children and family issues through service, advocacy, or academic studies, and are also supportive of CDF's social policy agenda. The level of knowledge and skill an applicant brings to CDF is particularly important within the context of a specific internship position. Since your internship will be a serious investment of your time and energy, it is important to consider what you hope to gain. This will guide us in finding the best fit.

For program details and FAQs, click here.

Recent Interns

2014 Summer Semester Interns

  • Alex Gomes
    Alex Gomes was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently a junior studying political science and history at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Alex is very involved with Habitat for Humanity in Deer Park, Washington, near where she goes to college and also tutors children in the area through a program called Saturday Morning Literacy. The children she worked with were primarily low income and who do not have English as their first language. Her experience volunteering for both these organizations is what sparked her interest in social justice and child advocacy. In the future, Alex hopes to attend law school and use her degree to promote children’s interests. Outside of work, Alex swims for her college’s swim team, loves reading, and traveling. This summer Alex spent interning for the CDF National Office in the Development Department.
  • Amy Glazier-Torgerson
    Amy Glazier-Torgerson, originally from Seattle, Washington, is a senior pursuing a major in Social Policy and a minor in Psychology at Northwestern University. For three years, Amy has advocated for low-income children in Chicago by completing 1200 hours of AmeriCorps service through Jumpstart. Amy loved serving as a Team Leader of her peers in a Head Start preschool, as well as working at the regional Jumpstart office in Program Development. These experiences, along with a slight obsession with Jonathon Kozol’s writing, instilled in her a passion for ensuring that all children regardless of race or socioeconomic status have extensive, high-quality opportunities to learn and grow. Next year, she will channel this commitment into writing an Honors Thesis on the experience gap and serving as a Volunteer Coordinator for Jumpstart. Amy is honored to serve as an Early Childhood Policy intern at Children’s Defense Fund, where she learns how to be a better advocate for children every day!
  • Andrew Gonzales
    Andrew Gonzales, originally from Richmond, California, is a junior at Brown University where he concentrates in political science and education policy. At Brown, Andrew works in several capacities that allow him to service his community and assist those who have often been marginalized in society. Andrew’s desire for the betterment of all children has propelled him into his internship with the Education Policy team at CDF’S National Office in Washington, D.C. By interning with this team, Andrew hopes to gain valuable and practical insight into the ways in which effective and impactful education policy can, and should be constructed so that particularly our Nation’s underserved children can have a more equitable chance to succeed. Upon graduation from Brown, Andrew hopes to seek a Juris Doctorate so that he may be a vocal advocate for more just laws.
  • Carly Spraggins
    Carly Spraggins, originally from Richmond, Virginia, is a rising 4th year at the University of Virginia where she is studying Government and Media Studies as well as pursuing an accelerated Master of Public Policy. She also spent last summer studying economics and public policy at the University of Oxford. Her previous experiences, as a long-time volunteer tutor as well as a Kids Club Coordinator for the non-profit YouthWorks, have strengthened her interest in pursuing a career in child advocacy and policy. Outside of the classroom Carly enjoys giving tours with the University Guide Service, working on Student Council, and serving on the Board of Directors for Madison House, the University’s student volunteer center. She is excited to be combining her interests in policy, public relations, and child advocacy this summer as a Communications Intern in the National Office!
  • Charrise Phillips
    Charrise Phillips, originally from Durham, North Carolina, is a first-year PhD student at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. After earning a bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from Duke University, Charrise taught sixth grade math in Miami, Florida for two years and eventually returned to her hometown to work towards closing the achievement gap between students living in poverty and their affluent peers. Charrise recently earned her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and is currently an Education Policy intern for the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Office in Washington, D.C. Charrise aspires to improve the educational and life outcomes of all students through innovative school programs and community-based organizations.
  • Claire Gorder
    Claire Gorder, originally from Riverside, California, is a rising senior at UCLA, studying Human Biology and Society and minoring in Theatre. Claire has always had a passion for working with children. On campus, she gives campus tours to K-8 students and also tutors elementary school students in downtown Los Angeles. Both of these experiences have increased Claire’s awareness of the challenges that youth face in education and lead her to an internship with the CDF. As a Freedom Schools Intern, she is excited to learn firsthand about the behind-the-scenes work of the program and the inventive practices used in Freedom School Classrooms. Additionally, Claire has been involved in theatre for many years and participates in productions on UCLA’s campus. She is interested in studying how an interdisciplinary education, particularly the incorporation of theatre in the classroom, can be used to influence student learning. For this reason, one of her favorite experiences at CDF thus far has been getting to participate in the Freedom Schools Harambee.
  • Danielle Lockett
    Danielle Lockett is interning in the executive office of CDF as an assistant to the Internship Coordinator. Danielle is a native of Washington, DC, and is a senior at Susquehanna University, located in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where she is an English Literature major, with a minor in Women’s Studies. On campus, Danielle is the current chair of The National Congress of Black Women Inc., Susquehanna University Chapter; she is also a member of AZA Step Team as well as a member of the Diversity Council at the college. Danielle has a strong passion for social justice and loves giving back to her community. Previously, she has volunteered with organizations in DC, such as the National Congress of Black Women National Office, FLOC—For the Love of Children, and Reading Partners. After graduation Danielle hopes to be the first generation in her family to pursue a JD degree at an institution that focuses on social justice and continue to service her community.
  • Erica Burnett
    Erica Burnett was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Around freshman year in High School found interest in Speech Pathology and went on to pursue the career in College. Attended California State University Los Angeles and graduated with a B.A. in Communication Disorders the year 2013. After college no longer found interest in being a Speech-Language Pathologist and found heart was to work as a Special Education Counselor. Business ventures include organizing homes of parents with children that have disabilities and owning a non-profit program giving children more opportunities in sports management. At home hobbies include playing in adult softball league at a community recreation center, going to the poetry lounge, and hiking. In spare time likes to read, write, draw, and spends most of time with family and friends.
  • Gia Do
    Gia Do, an international student from Vietnam, came to New York to finish his college in Management major. Gia’s first volunteer work with Actionaid Vietnam, an NGO working for human rights and defeat poverty, inspired him for further nonprofit work. Gia is an intern with the IT Department with the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Office in Washington, D.C where he can learn and enjoy his interest in computer and technology. Besides working, Gia also likes traveling, learning new culture, language and meet new people.
  • Haley Winter
    Haley Winter is seeking a double major in Modern Foreign Languages and Communication Studies at James Madison University. Her dedication to her studies is shown through her participation in the university’s Honors Program and her recurring achievement of Dean’s and President’s list. Although interested in all academics, her favorite classes are those that discuss the need for social reform. She has recently been invited to present her work on Justice in America at a conference this fall. This year, Haley was granted the Hillcrest Scholarship through her university. As the recipient, the scholarship is allowing her to live and work for a non-profit in Santiago, Chile next summer. She is excited to combine her passion for the Latin American culture with her desire to help others, but will miss working at the Children’s Defense Fund. She would like to thank the Freedom Schools staff for the opportunity to attend National Training and for their continued mentorship and support.
  • Hannah Schwarz
    Hannah Schwarz is a Child Welfare & Mental Health Policy intern at the Children’s Defense Fund, working on issues that affect abused, neglected, and foster care children. She is a rising junior at Yale, majoring in Ethics, Politics, & Economics, and interested in social policy, education policy, and impact litigation. She is particularly interested in policy that targets those living in poverty in the U.S. She likes long-form journalism, films that come out during Oscars season, and Slate’s Political GabFest. She is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Isabel Zuckoff
    Isabel Zuckoff, originally from Boston, Massachusetts, is a graduate student at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. After receiving a B.A. in Sociology from Boston University, Isabel spent two years working at the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ). During her time there, she was exposed to numerous issues related to the healthcare delivery system for children and their families as well as the gap in access to healthcare, which is often a result of social determinants of health such as socioeconomic status, race, and gender. This exposure prompted her to return to school for a Masters of Public Health. Isabel is in the Sociomedical Sciences Department at Mailman and is getting a certificate in health policy. Isabel is currently an intern in the Child Health Policy Department at CDF’s National Office in Washington, D.C. Through her studies and work at CDF, Isabel hopes to combine her interest in health policy and health disparities related to social factors in order to ensure better access to health insurance and health care for children and their families across the country.
  • Jasmine Payne
    Jasmine Payne is a senior at Spelman College pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Her passion for social justice advocacy was realized while participating in a Thirty Hour Famine program with the youth ministry at her home church. Throughout her journey in school, she has continued her advocacy journey with the Social Justice Fellows Program and the Student Government Association at Spelman. The experiences of these organizations coupled with life experiences have inspired her to continue to strive for the advancement of civility and have become the inspiration of her honor’s thesis regarding the relationship between college funding and fulfillment of educational and life pursuits. Jasmine had the pleasure of joining the CDF Family as a Research Policy Intern at the Washington D.C. national office. Endeavoring to advocate for poverty relief through education, she strongly believes that “we are the ones that we have been waiting for.”
  • Keely Smith
    Keely Smith, from Tallahassee, Florida, is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Exceptional Student Education at Florida State University. Upon graduating in May of 2015 she hopes to work as a high school teacher for students with high-incidence disabilities. She has worked both in and out of the classroom with students of all ages and has found a true passion in teaching. Besides working in the classroom with students, Keely has also worked as both a counselor and administrator at a number of faith-based camps & events, co-founded a summer reading program and conducted educational research through the Florida Center for Reading Research. All of these experiences led her to become interested in Children’s Defense Fund and their advocacy work for underrepresented children. She is honored to be working as an intern this summer with such an all-encompassing program as Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools®.
  • Lina Zhang
    Lina Zhang, she is from China, moved to United States for perusing master degree in Tiffin University, Ohio. She came United States for one and half year, she really like here. She thinks the people in United States are very nice and friendly. Her major is Human Resource Management; she is as an intern in Human Resource Department. She is so glad and honor to internship in Children Defense Organization, one of the main reasons is the internship related to her major. In Human Resource Department in CDF, she has a platform to gain more professional knowledge about HR. Another reason is she really like kids, she want to get involved to be a part of member in CDF to help more young children by attending different activities if get chance.
  • Marcella Jimenez
    Marcella Jimenez grew up in Dallas, TX and is currently a rising junior at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. She is pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Education. Marcella is interested in how the intersections of race, gender, and class influence identity, particularly in the adolescence. This interest led Marcella to become the co-leader of Fostering Female Leadership in Youth (FFLY), a mentorship group that works with Middle School girls in Bath, ME. In addition to FFLY, Marcella is also a member of the Peer Health team and an advocate with V-Day, a group committed to ending violence against women. Last summer, Marcella worked with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County (CACCC) as a Community Resource Caseworker. She assisted children and families who were survivors of abuse and neglect. While the resilience and hope of her clients was inspiring, Marcella was disheartened by the shortcomings of government policy that failed to help her clients adequately. In search of an advocacy organization that champions policies that benefit children, Marcella found the Children’s Defense Fund. She is a summer intern for the Education Policy team and her work this summer is funded by the Strong/Gault Social Advancement Grant.
  • Melanie Stern
    Melanie Stern, originally from Bethesda, MD, is a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in Urban Studies and minoring in Architecture and Spanish. Throughout her time at Wash U, Melanie has worked passionately to serve youth, particularly those most vulnerable. She helped form and is now president of her university’s student group, City Faces at Wash U, which works with youth living in the St. Louis Clinton Peabody Housing Projects through mentoring, tutoring, and other programming in order to provide them with a healthy, safe, and friendly environment to grow. Melanie recently returned from studying abroad in Argentina where she worked with youth living in Buenos Aires Villas, helping to teach music and English classes. Melanie hopes to continue to learn from the students with whom she has had the honor of working as well as continue to fight for the well-being of all children, no matter where they reside. Melanie is a Communications Intern at CDF’s national office in Washington D.C.
  • Michelle Wexler
    Michelle Wexler is overjoyed to be serving as a Child Welfare and Mental Health Intern at the Children’s Defense Fund National Office. Michelle Wexler is senior at Brandeis and hails from Westchester, New York. She is double majoring in American Studies and a self-designed major entitled Social Justice, Social Change. Michelle is pursuing a career in child welfare as she feels strongly that every child deserves a safe and loving home. At Brandeis, Michelle is the coordinator for Brandeis Buddies, a group that aims to bridge the gap between Brandeis students and adults with developmental disabilities. She is the current Undergraduate Departmental Representative for Independent Interdisciplinary Major and has served three years as an Orientation leader for the incoming Brandeis first-years. Michelle also enjoys performing with her sketch comedy troupe Boris’ Kitchen.
  • Rachel Kraun
    Originally from Trenton, New Jersey, Rachel Kraun received her Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied poverty’s influence on children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. Rachel broadened her passion for children’s issues during the several years she spent creating and directing children’s educational and enrichment programs for underserved communities in Yonkers, New York. In the fall, Rachel plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work and Nonprofit Management at Rutgers University. Rachel is delighted to be interning with the Beat the Odds program this summer, and hopes to enhance her knowledge of youth programming throughout her summer in Washington.
  • Selina Schirmer
    Selina Schirmer, a native of Rochester, New York, is a rising senior at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. As part of the University Fellows Honors program, she is pursuing a self-designed course of study in the areas of accounting, finance, and political science. Selina is a member of Samford’s Division I varsity volleyball team, and on the executive committee of the university’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, helping to bridge the gap between student-athletes and university administrators, as well as seeking out service opportunities for the athletes to participate in. Selina became interested in the mission of Children’s Defense Fund after spending last summer as a mentor for a summer financial literacy and college preparedness program for Birmingham City School District students, and was excited for the opportunity to merge her passion for children and education, in particular, with her interest in the financial workings of non-profit organizations. Selina is an intern with the Finance Department at Children’s Defense Fund’s National Office in Washington, D.C.
  • Tiffany Ashton
    Tiffany Ashton is a rising 1L at the University of Baltimore Law School. She is from Clinton, Maryland. Having worked with children for nearly a decade, Tiffany’s passion for children has prompted her to pursue a career as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). Tiffany is a policy intern in the Juvenile Justice Department at CDF in the National Office in DC, where she is focused on advocating for children in the juvenile justice system and learning how policy shapes decisions that ultimately affect the children she one day hopes to represent. Tiffany is grateful for the opportunity that she has had to work at CDF and work on important issues that directly affect millions of children.
  • Ulrike Salifou
    Ulrike Salifou, originally from Germany, is a graduate student at the University of Virginia and lives with her husband in Charlottesville, Virginia. She anticipates graduating in 2016 with a Master in Public Policy and a second Master in Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy, Law and Ethics. Before attending graduate school Ulrike earned her Associate Degree in General Studies and Bachelor Degree in Psychology. Ulrike loves working with children and is very passionate about changing their lives for the better. Throughout high school she worked as a tutor and during college she volunteered as a group leader for the Lab School of Washington’s summer program. Ulrike worked as a Toddler and Preschool Teacher for two years before deciding to go back to school to pursue her graduate degrees. Ulrike is currently a Policy Research Intern at CDF’s National Office in Washington, DC. She is excited to learn about the different aspects of child advocacy and how policies can be used to improve the lives of our nation’s children.
  • Zoe Jackson
    Zoe Jackson, originally from Nashville TN, is a rising junior at Spelman College majoring in Psychology with a minor in Educational Studies. Zoe is extremely passionate about early childhood education and has worked with other nonprofit organizations such as Jumpstart, and has been committed to serving in various churches, schools, and childcare centers. Following graduation in 2016, she plans to enter the education field and become an advocate for quality education for every child regardless of their zip code and parent’s socioeconomic status. Zoe is so honored and blessed to intern with the Children’s Defense Fund under the Beat the Odds Program, and will use this opportunity to learn, grow, and make a greater impact on our youth.
Frequently Asked Questions

What topic should my writing sample address?

Though applicants may choose any essay topic, samples should demonstrate writing and reasoning skills. 

How long should my writing sample be?

The writing sample should not exceed 1,000 words.

What should I include in my cover letter?

The cover letter should address the following topics:

  • why you want to intern at CDF
  • a description of prior skills and experience that is relevant to CDF's work
  • insight on your experience in, or passion for, children's issuse and advocacy work
  • what you hope to gain from the experience

How long should my resume be and what should it include?

Your resume should be no longer than one page and should  include at least your education, work experience, extracurricular activities, and service experiences.

How should I write my 2 reference letters?

One reference letter should be written by a professor at your most current college or university. Applicants may choose their second recommender. The chosen person should illustrate your qualifications, character, and commitment to servant leadership.

To whom should the reference letters be addressed?

"To Whom It May Concern" or "Children's Defense Fund's Internship Reviewing Committee"

Do I have to be in college to apply?

No. Current, recent and graduate students; along with professionals are eligible to apply.

Are Internship positions paid?

No. CDF Internship positions are unpaid. Applicants may contact educational and non-profit organizations to apply for funding assistance.

Is housing provided?

No. Applicants must arrange for their own housing. Some helpful housing sites are listed below:

Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH)  Capitol Hill Stay  The Washington Center  Trinity College
       
 Catholic University  George Washington University  American University  Howard University
Internship Coordinator Contact Information

Contact Information

Internship Coordinator
Children's Defense Fund
25 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
 Phone: 202-662-3507  Email: cdf_interns@childrensdefense.org