Empowering Our Youth to Strengthen Our Democracy
2022 No. 11
Announcing a new Students for Justice initiative! Since the very first days of our internship program, we have spoken of hoping to turn our interns into lifelong ambassadors for voting. A grant from the Peter and Mary Levin Family Foundation is going to help us to realize that goal by funding an experimental project aimed at keeping former interns engaged in getting out the vote. We will launch the SFJ Ambassadors for Voting initiative this summer.

The grant will allow us to enroll as ambassadors 8-10 former SFJ interns who are on college campuses for the fall semester.  These SFJ ambassadors will recruit, motivate, and supervise student and community volunteers to write postcards and engage in phone banking and text banking to get out the vote in our 2022 target states (GA, NC, and FL). They will, of course, receive stipends. The project will be managed by two talented veteran interns, reflecting our commitment to providing pathways to promotion and professional growth within Students for Justice. These two project coordinators will supervise the ambassadors and provide the creative and logistical direction for the project.
Meet Our Project Coordinators
Our two project coordinators are Melanie Ortega and Jona Inniss, both juniors at Whittier College in California majoring in anthropology. Both are three-session veterans of Students for Justice. Jona joined SFJ for our first session in the summer of 2020, returned for the fall 2020 session, and helped pioneer our tech tools initiative in the spring of 2021. She then left SFJ to spend the fall 2021 semester abroad in London. Melanie joined SFJ in the fall of 2020 (at Jona’s urging), was part of the tech tools initiative in spring 2021, and then returned as a team manager in fall 2021.  
Melanie Ortega
Melanie says, “I see Students for Justice as where I began my adult life.” Not only will Melanie have had four very different opportunities within SFJ, but she has also gotten two other jobs as a result of her participation in the program. In the summer of 2021 she worked for a company as a marketing intern, putting her SFJ marketing training to use, and this semester she and Jona (along with five other SFJ alumni) are working at the Lincoln Project. Melanie emphasizes that the fact that SFJ is a paid internship “evens the field” and is what made it possible for her to join the program. She says “Being low-income and being a person of color, it’s been a very important thing for me to be paid to share my voice and bring about change.”
Jona Inniss
Jona told us that in addition to the professional skills she has learned as an intern she values most that Students for Justice has given her an opportunity to “call in” people to the democratic process. “With Students for Justice, I’ve been able to not only work directly with communities by helping spread the message of voting’s importance but also to get other people around me to get inspired and become more aware of the issues around voting in America.” Her message to the volunteers she recruits to get out the vote -- as well as to everyone reading this newsletter -- is this: "Let’s all work together to ensure that we know that we’ve done the best that we can to protect democracy and protect voting rights.”  
Jona's message is one that should inspire all of us as we begin the serious work of getting out the vote for the 2022 midterm election. Students for Justice protects democracy by promoting voter turnout in the communities of color that have been targeted by voter suppression. This year, we will have 40 interns in our summer session and 80 interns in our fall session, all college students who live and/or attend college in GA, FL, or NC, and most of them students at historically Black colleges or universities. We will now also have SFJ ambassadors on campuses around the country, motivating their communities to get involved in getting out the vote.

You, too, protect democracy when you support our efforts with a donation. We can't do this critically important work without you!
With hope for our democracy,
Claire Ullman & Sandra Radoff
Help us find opportunities for our former interns!
We work hard to make Students for Justice a career stepping stone for our interns. One of the ways we do this is by sharing job and internship opportunities with our program alumni. If you know of an opportunity for current college students or recent graduates, in any field, please email us to let us know about it so we can share it with our intern community. You might even consider having one of our former interns work for you this summer!
Want to make a difference?
The ongoing success of the internship program has been made possible by the COVID-friendly fundraising we’ve been doing, with more than 30 virtual house parties held since last spring. (Thank you to our AMAZING house party hosts for pulling their friends together on Zoom to learn more and help raise funds for these paid internships!) Click here to attend, host, or learn more about a house party.

Help us reach more people! Please forward this newsletter to everyone you know who might want to help young people save our democracy.
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