The Millbrook School core value that resonates with all students and alumni, even decades after graduation, is service. This is because students can see and even measure their impact as they contribute in tangible ways through Millbrook’s very unique and robust community service program. In an effort to encourage students to carry those ideals forward, Herb Shultz ’63 founded and funded the initial offering of the MillbrookEngage Summer Internship Program several years ago to provide financial support, real-world skills and experience, and guidance to Millbrook students as they offer their time and skills to non-profit organizations serving the community.
“MillbrookEngage is an old school idea with a modern-day twist,” says Assistant Headmaster and Headmaster Elect Jon Downs ’98. “We are a school built on service, and we are preparing our students for lives of meaning and consequence. What I love is that the best way to start doing that is getting a job—getting a job you care about, potentially something you want to pursue in the future, and having all of the responsibilities that come with that. MillbrookEngage has become a part of the modern-day fabric because it is so mission-centered.”
In April of 2019, The Edward E. Ford Foundation approved a $250,000 grant for Millbrook on a 1:2 match, thus validating the program and the value it brings to our students and the organizations they help. With this grant Millbrook will have adequate funding for the next five years, enabling us to grow the number of internships from seven to as many as 15 students, or roughly 15% of the rising Vth form class, each year.
“This is something that hasn’t been done at the high school level before,” says Downs. “E.E. Ford is acknowledging Millbrook School and this program as a leader in the industry. This is recognition that what we have created is innovative and replicable, laying the groundwork for other schools to follow in our footsteps.”
One of the strengths of this program is that students are allowed to work collaboratively to find a fit that works best for them, and the opportunities in the non-profit world are vast and varied. Student interns have been involved in medical and research centers, the New York Supreme Court, rural housing construction, affordable housing advocacy organizations, an art foundation, a school for autistic children, a senior community, a grassroots voter engagement program, our own Trevor Zoo, and various local service organizations. No two internships are alike, and the takeaways are invaluable to this group of students both personally and professionally. And the feedback from the mentors and supervisors of our students has been overwhelmingly positive.
Each fall, those students who held a service-based internship the previous summer share their experiences with the entire student body at an all-school assembly. Their reflections have been instrumental in growing the program as they have inspired Vth formers to consider opportunities in their local communities, which combine their passions with service to others.