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College to Congress

Retaining paid interns, hiring paid summer interns and keeping interns during the coronavirus crisis would help ensure a smooth continuation of government, writes College to Congress CEO Audrey Henson.

Capitol Hill interns especially vulnerable as D.C. shuts down

Henson is founder and CEO of College to Congress, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that works to get more young adults positioned for careers in public service.

Last week, the House of Representatives adopted 29 bipartisan recommendations from the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Among them are plans to improve the House's record of staff diversity and retention — including better ways to address the needs of entry-level staff, the annual legion of congressional interns included.

Our group caters to students who are passionate about public service and come from low-income backgrounds or are in the first generation of their family to attend college. We help them get placed in offices throughout the House and Senate, but now they are among the most vulnerable communities on Capitol Hill.

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Civic Ed
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Photo courtesy College to Congress

"Bipartisanship is present in everything we do," writes Henson, including the 2019 College to Congress class.

How young people are modeling bipartisanship in a polarized world

Henson is the CEO of College to Congress, a nonpartisan nonprofit that provides scholarships and professional development training to college students and recent graduates seeking careers in public service.

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a panel established this year to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the House, recently hosted a hearing titled "Promoting Civility and Building a More Collaborative Congress."

As a former congressional intern, staffer and now the founder of a nonprofit that works to create a more collaborative and effective Congress, I was thrilled to see a hunger for stronger bipartisan relationships. I was even more pleased to see elements of our program align with best practices established by experts.

College to Congress is building a pipeline of public servants that reflects the full socioeconomic diversity in America. We help Pell-grant-eligible and other students from low-income backgrounds secure congressional internships and cover all expenses associated with a summer in D.C. Bipartisanship is present in everything we do, from our board to the congressional offices we work with — even within our intern class.

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