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Former White House intern creates scholarship for unpaid Black interns

Deesha Dyer was inspired by her own experience interning for Obama

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Deesha Dyer (Courtesy: deeshadyer.com)

A former White House intern under President Barack Obama has announced a scholarship fund to support Black unpaid interns.

Deesha Dyer created the Black Girl 44 Scholarship in 2019 as an independent initiative that offered scholarship funding to unpaid interns in politics and public service.

The Black Girl 44 Scholarship included contributions from more than 55 Black / African-American women who worked in the Obama White House according to the website.

“Now more than ever, people who previously didn’t consider themselves the “political” type are answering the call for civic engagement. For college students looking to get involved in politics (local/national) or social movements, there is almost no better direct introduction than a Washington, D.C., internship,” the site stated.

According to a report from Because of Them We Can, Dyer, a Philadelphia native, said her own experience as a White House intern inspired her after she noticed there weren’t a lot of Black men or women interns.

“Last year showed us clearly that Black women bear the brunt of the pandemic, yet remain at the forefront of movement and change. More than ever, we need more Black women to run for office, start social justice movements, join campaigns, and with this scholarship, we can help alleviate any financial hurdles they experience along the way,” Dyer said in a statement.

The scholarship has expanded from 55 donors to more than 100 with the support of Impact of a Vote, an organization exposing “African-American college students to non-traditional careers and pathways in politics.”

Dyer hopes that the scholarships will give Black women the confidence to go for internships in politics even if they are unpaid or receive a stipend that doesn’t cover the cost of living in the area.

“Change in politics and public service shouldn’t be reserved for those who can afford to gain access through unpaid or low-paid internships. There shouldn’t be unpaid internships to begin with, but I wanted this scholarship to help provide funds for someone who may need financial assistance to complete their internship. This seeds the pipeline of Black women in politics that are needed in order for us to continue dismantling and rebuilding oppressive systems,” Dyer told Because Of Them We Can.

Applications for the Black Girl 44 Scholarship will award $1,000 scholarships to 10 Black/African-American undergraduate women who have earned an internship in politics or public service across the nation.

Applications for Summer 2021 are currently open. The deadline to submit is May 1.