In NCLM-Supported Partnership, College Students are Helping Town Hall Through Pandemic

Ben Brown, NCLM Communications & Multimedia Strategist

One, the pandemic places outsize demand on governments and nonprofits to respond. And two, plans for internships fell through for many a college student.

That was the two-rung ladder to connect these college students to immediate work experience opportunities under a partnership the League is supporting called the NC COVID-19 Student Response Corps. Those opportunities would include towns that exceedingly need help as COVID-19 continues to compress resources.

The state’s community college and university systems have, of course, long been partnership powerhouses. “Let’s plug in our state’s greatest assets” to help governments and nonprofits meet the spike need, said Dylan Russell, Director of Lead for NC at the UNC School of Government, which is leading the Response Corps alongside the N.C. Office of Strategic Partnerships.

“It is certainly a mountains-to-coast, rural-urban type of opportunity,” said state Director of Strategic Partnerships Jenni Owen.

They’ve built a database of agencies, offices, and departments from up, down, and across the state in need of interns. The database, viewable at, includes descriptions of the work the students would be doing at a certain town hall or nonprofit, with many positions virtual. Well beyond 100 eligible organizations were on the “seeking” list at the time of this writing. One municipality was looking for help with day-to-day duties at its planning department, for instance.

Owen said one of the supplementary, but enormous, values from the Response Corps’ existence is giving the organizations themselves experience working with interns. A large percentage of local governments and organizations that hosted interns through the program last year had never before taken on an intern—something that generally does require facilitation. Now, the template is there, and they’ve seen the benefits.

This will be the second year of the Response Corps, launched in 2020 as the pandemic spoke for so much in resources.

Last year’s “was a fantastic opportunity to gain professional experience and develop new, marketable skills,” an intern with the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau named Andrew Gagliano said, according to literature from the governor’s office.

And there’s the obvious second angle to the program beyond its relief for organizations in need. Said Gov. Roy Cooper, “We also hope it will lead some students to consider a career in public service.”

An endowment from the John M Belk Foundation will provide stipends to the interning students.

Municipal governments and other eligible organizations can request interns online at

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