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‘It’s A Really Difficult Time Right Now’: IOP Launches Stipend Program For Seniors Entering Politics, Public Service

Students monitor Super Tuesday results during one of the final in-person Institute of Politics events prior to the pandemic in March 2020.
Students monitor Super Tuesday results during one of the final in-person Institute of Politics events prior to the pandemic in March 2020. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Isabel G. Skomro, Crimson Staff Writer

The Institute of Politics is accepting applications for a one-time “start-up stipend” offered to members of the Class of 2021 who are pursuing work in the political and public service sector in summer 2021.

The stipend amount will vary based on demonstrated financial need, with amounts ranging up to $5,000. Though financial need will be taken into account when applications are reviewed, all graduating seniors are eligible to apply, including those who do not receive financial assistance from the College.

IOP Vice President Kevin L. Ballen ’22 said the program is meant to help graduates pursue a career path that might not otherwise be accessible due to economic circumstances, especially during the pandemic.

“The basic premise is that it’s a really difficult time right now with Covid-19,” Ballen said. “Public service jobs tend to have shorter and varying timelines, sometimes you get an internship or need to live in a city where you’re going to work first.”

“Our goal is to help people sort of pursue these pathways,” he added.

According to Ballen, the stipend will alleviate some financial constraints imposed on graduating seniors to ensure greater accessibility to political and public service jobs.

“The goal is twofold: one is to make access to these jobs more accessible for students of all different types of backgrounds,” he said. “The second is to really help students in a particularly uncertain time and in uncertain fields of politics and public service where jobs move quickly or move at the last minute.”

IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78 wrote in an email that the IOP is “proud” to extend this stipend to graduating seniors dedicated to the “common good.”

“At this challenging moment in our economy and in our civic life, the Institute is proud to support graduating seniors whose work and dedication to the common good could not be more relevant or more critical than at this time,” Gearan wrote.

IOP Internships and Career Services Coordinator Sadie B. Polen wrote in an email that the new stipend program is “more important than ever.”

“It’s a unique program, created during a unique time, when public service is more important than ever,” Polen wrote. “We’re eager to see the impact our alumni will have as they begin their path in politics and public service.”

In fall 2020, the IOP also debuted a stipend program for current undergraduates pursuing term-time jobs in politics and public service.

—Staff writer Isabel G. Skomro can be reached at or on Twitter @isabelskomro.

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