Middlebury College is one of over twenty member institutions of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the proliferation of poverty studies programs at colleges and universities in the U.S. Each summer SHECP’s flagship national internship program sends over 100 students from its member schools to work with nonprofit and government agencies addressing poverty across the country. Middlebury regularly sends 5-7 students to participate in this summer program.
The Consortium’s internship program includes eight weeks of summer fieldwork bookended by opening and closing conferences, during which student interns come together with peers from other schools (and with faculty and staff) to critically reflect on their experiences. The closing conference also includes an annual symposium on a topic important to understanding poverty; past symposia have focused on issues like incarceration, childhood literacy, and nutrition.
The Consortium offers other benefits to its member institutions, like continuing education workshops for faculty and staff; mechanisms for assessment and improvement of local curricular programs; a website for sharing relevant news and information between member institutions; and a network for sharing the important work being done in poverty studies by staff, faculty, and students at SHECP schools.
Middlebury College’s Tiffany Sargent has been a leader in the development of the Consortium’s internship program since SHECP’s inception, and she currently serves on its Internship Committee. Former P&P Academic Director James Davis served as the inaugural chair of the SHECP Governing Board, and held other leadership roles in the Consortium as well.
Through the collaboration of institutions participating in the Consortium, SHECP hopes to create a national movement of poverty studies programs, producing thousands of college graduates informed about the causes and remedies of poverty, and ready to address them through professional, civic, and political engagement. Middlebury is proud to play a leadership role in the Consortium’s efforts.