ProInspire Helps Business Professionals Transition to Nonprofit Careers

ProInspireNew fellowship program places business sector emigres in critical roles in nonprofits in the Washington, DC, area.

Launched during the worst economic climate in generations, ProInspire eases the path of business professionals to find careers that are more meaningful to them — while helping nonprofits recruit people with the hard financial and other skills crucial for their long-term sustainability.

With the application deadline just days away (April 8th) for its first group of Fellows, ProInspire hopes to infuse the nonprofit sector with people who are trained with financial and project-management skills common in the for-profit sector. And any influx of staff may help in the long run. The nonprofit sector is projected to need to recruit 640,000 executives in the coming years as the baby boomer generation begins to retire. Continue reading

Peace Corps China – Teaching future teachers

Volunteers teach college-level English in China’s interior for two years, including a summer of intense training. Livable monthly stipend, top-notch health benefits, Mandarin language education, network of other volunteers throughout the Southwest.

Peace Corps’s China program is one of my alma maters, and is a recruitment priority right now for Peace Corps. So I am sneaking it in as part of this week’s focus on teaching corps. Read about Peace Corps’s education programs more broadly.

Next week (Nov. 8th) my friend and China RPCV Kate Kuykendall, a public affairs specialist for the L.A. recruitment office, will host an Online Info Session about Peace Corps China that you can tune into for even more information.

A word about teaching English

The notion of teaching English doesn’t seem as glam as other overseas volunteer assignments like business or public health.

Chinese lecture hall, by Alison

Chinese lecture hall, by Alison

But English is a skill that people from the United States tend to have, and that other countries want for their youth. If you are looking to contribute to the development of other countries and build the capacity of young people there, English is a skill you can export and feel good about.

The other thing about teaching English is that right from the start of your term, before you can speak well in their language, your students can serve as insightful cultural informants to help you navigate your new life. Read about teaching English in China with Peace Corps.

Pre-service training

Trainees in the China program live in homestays during the two months of pre-service training, learn how to effectively teach English to large groups of students, study Chinese language in small groups with exceptional teachers, learn how to stay healthy (i.e., don’t drink unboiled water, what to do in case of unmentionable stomach ailments, etc.), receive scheduled immunization shots, and at the end of the summer, are sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers.


Volunteers serve in teachers colleges in the interior of China, and teach classes of 40-60 students at a time.

English library, photo by Alison

English library, photo by Alison

Subjects  include English literacy, conversation, and  British and U.S. literature and culture.  The work week includes several courses, office hours, and often a teacher-hazing ritual called “English Corner.” Students typically come from very poor, rural areas, with plans to return home to teach English at the middle-school level. Colleges in China are more likely to be in cities, so China placements tend to be urban, where Volunteers live rent-free in modestly furnished campus apartments. Read some basics about living in China.


A large Chinese kitchen, photo by Alison

A large Chinese kitchen, photo by Alison

Benefits of Peace Corps service — other than that your understanding of the world is enriched forever — include airfare to and from your country of service, health care (including prescription and over the counter medicines, yearly exams, evacuation home if the medical attention you need is not available in-country), a monthly stipend that is on par with that of locals, two vacation days per month (plus local holidays and weekends), reimbursement and per diem for all service-related travel, and just over $6,000 disbursed to you when your term of service ends.

If natural disaster, political unrest, plague, etc. make your stay in China untenable, Peace Corps will evacuate you and your group. Read more about the recent closing of the Bolivia program. In 2003, the Peace Corps China program was completely emptied out in response to the SARS epidemic.

In addition to pre-service language training, Peace Corps reimburses you the expense of on-going private language instruction once you are at your service placement. A few times a year you have the opportunity to head to trainings at Peace Corps country headquarters (in China, this is located in Chengdu, Sichuan, very near the May earthquake epicenter).

heping dui, photo by Alison

heping dui, photo by Alison

Educational benefits include deferring qualified student loans during your term of service (and partial cancellation of Perkins loans). Once you are back, you are eligible to apply for special fellowships at grad schools through the Fellows USA program, especially designed for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). (For people who have not yet joined Peace Corps, also consider Peace Corps Masters International, which allows you to do Peace Corps service as part of a master’s degree). Read more and listen to a podcast on Peace Corps and grad school.

Peace Corps China journalists

No discussion of Peace Corps’s China program would be complete without mentioning the journalists who have graduated from it. While most China RPCVs have gone on to do great things in many fields, the group has produced several noteworthy writers and journalists.

Pete and a Chinese man, photo by Mark Leong

Pete and a Chinese man, photo by Mark Leong

These men’s voices weigh in on our understanding of China. They are helping people in the U.S. create a new consciousness of China, about the complexities of its culture, its conflicting priorities as it develops. The value of their contribution lies in their knowledge of the language, people, and context of China with a depth the U.S. reader hasn’t seen since missionary-era writers like Pearl Buck.

The emphasis Peace Corps China has traditionally placed on friendship (the Chinese name for the group is the Sino-U.S. Friendship Volunteers), cross-cultural and cross-linguistic understanding, produces a wider lens through which to view the nation and its billion-plus people — a lens some other journalists in China simply haven’t had.

It’s not that these journalists are apologists for the unsavory things the Chinese government does. But we aren’t going to learn anything about China, or any country, if we look only at the actions of a government and never at the people themselves… If we only listen to press conferences and never to the voices of the farmer or factory worker.


The independent Peace Corps Wiki is an alternative source of information about Peace Corps. Here’s the China wiki.

Read the online journal entries of Michelle Ross who served in China from 2006-08, and listings of other Peace Corps China blogs.

Check out this Google presentation featuring China RPCV Pete Hessler speaking about his writing and experiences in Peace Corps.

Check out the official Peace Corps Video Vault, where Volunteers speak to some of the most frequently-asked questions Peace Corps applicants have.


And a repeat: Next week (11/8) my friend and China RPCV Kate Kuykendall, a public affairs specialist for the L.A. recruitment office, will host an Online Info Session about Peace Corps China that you can tune into for even more information.

For more resources on graduate education, check out the Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and if you live in the vicinity of Georgia, come to our final graduate admissions fair coming to Atlanta on Monday, 11/3.

This week The New Service blog is looking at education service corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer. Check out this list of education-related opprotunities that don’t require an education degree.

NYC Teaching Fellows

New teachers primarily work in Bronx and Brooklyn schools with high demand for faculty, covering subjects that are also desperately needed. Within two to three years, Fellows earn a subsidized Masters degree from university in the area.

NYC Teaching Fellows — as with Teach For America, Inner-City Teaching Corps, Mississippi Teacher Corps, and other education corps we are looking at this week — is designed to bring new talent to schools.


People who enter the program don’t need to have had any formal background in education, but do need to have a 3.0 Grade Point Average in undergraduate course work. Read about other eligibility requirements.

The program recruits both recent college grads as well as career changers.

Training and “placement”

After an intense June seven-week pre-service training, Fellows start teaching. The program assigns each Fellow the New York City borough in which they will teach, and their subject. (Of particular need are math and science teachers.)

Fellows research and apply for the teaching positions themselves, and are granted a provisional state teaching license for their time in the program.

While teaching, Fellows earn the salary and benefits of starting teachers in the city (salary nears $46,000).

Master’s degree

Each semester, Fellows take two courses towards their master’s degree, mostly paid for by the New York City Department of Education. (Over the course of the program, Fellows contribute almost $7,000 towards the cost of the mastser’s degree, and that is deducted from their pay checks.)

The specific universities and degrees vary for each Fellow, depending on the borough where they work, and the subject they teach. More than half attend City University of New York (CUNY) schools. For most Fellows, it takes two to three years to finish the degree. After that, NYC Teaching Fellows encourages graduating Fellows to stay in the city and continue teaching. They cite a statistic I’ve seen elsewhere that it takes about five years for a new teacher to really hit their stride, and they want all their Fellows to reach that point.


Browse profiles and videos of Fellows, including Travis Brown’s. Read the blog of Bill King, third-year Fellow teaching biology and physics.

Also, watch interviews with first-year Fellow Kristen Bloomer and take a look inside Fellow Jeanine Tubiolo’s classroom:

Finally, watch this online presentation about the NYC Teaching Fellows.

Deadlines and application

Upcoming deadlines to apply for a 2009 Fellowship are December 5 and January 5. Read more about the application process.


For more resources on graduate education, check out the Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and if you live in the U.S. South, come out to one of our graduate admissions fairs touring — tonight in New Orleans and Monday in Atlanta.

This week The New Service blog is looking at education service corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer. Check out this list of education-related opprotunities that don’t require an education degree.

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Chicago’s Inner-City Teaching Corps

New teachers serve for two years in Chicago’s Catholic and charter schools, live in supportive inter-faith communities, earn alternative teacher certification, and work towards their education degree.

The Inner-City Teaching Corps of Chicago aims to transform education in under-served communities and to empower children in urban schools. The organization houses two programs that create and train new teachers who work in under-resourced schools in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

Eligibility & placement

The Volunteer Teaching Corps recruits and supports recent college graduates, and the Urban Impact Through Education (UNITE) program brings “proven leaders from the business world into the teaching profession.”

As with Teach For America and other education service corps you don’t need to have been an education major, though a 3.0 minimum undergraduate Grade Point Average is expected.

ICTC places its Corps members in Catholic and charter schools because its Corps members are working towards alternative certification during their first year of service.

Alternative certification and education

The Corps’s Alternative Teacher Certification Program is a partnership with Northwestern University that adds a diverse group of talented new teachers to Chicago’s schools and allows Corps members to earn up to 22 credits towards an M.S. in Education during their term of service. Read more about ICTC’s professional development benefits.

Community living and other benefits

Volunteer Teaching Corps members live in supportive communities with other six or seven other Corps members—communities that are spiritual, and inter-faith, depending on the beliefs of the community members. Corps members receive room and board, health insurance, and a $5/day allowance. They can defer qualified student loans, and earn the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for each year they are in the program. (Corps members use the first year of the Ed Award to contribute to the cost of the first eight Northwestern University course credits towards their degree.)


This year 35-40 Corps members serve in the Volunteer Teacher Corps, but the program gets five times that number of applications. About 35 teachers serve in the UNITE program for mid-career professionals transitioning into the field of education.

Career trajectory

While teachers nationally tend to stay in the classroom an average of 3-5 years before burning out, almost 90 percent of ICTC-trained teachers are still in the field of education, according to the organization’s 2007 Annual Report.

More info and open house

Read more about this year’s Corps members, and about admissions. Note that the next application deadline is Nov. 5 — that’s next week! Also note that ICTC runs several other programs.

Also note that the Volunteer Teaching Corps hosts a weekend-long open house in mid-January called the Come & See Weekend (January 15-18, 2009). Participants in the weekend stay in the VTC communities, participate in a Corps member’s classroom, and visit Chicago’s South and West Sides. Another application deadline follows that weekend on January 21.


For more resources on graduate education, check out the Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and if you live in the U.S. South, come out to one of our graduate admissions fairs touring New Orleans and Atlanta in the coming days.

This week The New Service blog is looking at education service corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer. Check out this list of education-related opprotunities that don’t require an education degree.
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Emerging Leaders Fellowship in NYC

Young public service professionals in New York can experience the support of a cohort without joining a service corps

The Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU offers the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service to non-students for the past several years that provides career and moral support, professional development, and camaraderie to nonprofit professionals who are in the first years of their career.

So the bad news is, the deadline to apply for next year was Oct. 17. Sorry I didn’t post about this sooner! The good news is, it exists! And Wagner — which has been both a grad fair host for Idealist and a career fair sponsor — has some other can’t-pass-up fellowships that I’ll link to at the end of this post.

Here is some information about FELPS from the web site for next year:

FELPS is one of the first organized programs that actively guides and engages emerging leaders in a process that encourages self-directed career development. This process encourages Fellows to explicitly answer the question “Why public service?” while simultaneously presenting them with the exciting and challenging options that a modern-day public service career offers. Through this Fellowship, NYU Wagner is extending its commitment to educating the next generation of public service leaders.

Fellows will be brought together for a series of twice-a-month workshops in the evening, during lunch time, and over breakfast with an opportunity to:

  • Discuss public service issues and career challenges with experts in the public service field;
    Gain a clear assessment of their own assets, knowledge base and skill set;
  • Build a network of peers and mentors who can offer insight and guidance on career development; and
  • Develop a career plan based on personal assessments and professional goals.

For those of you who are interested in Wagner as an educational destination, know about these opportunities: Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Graduate Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship offers a $50,000 scholarship for 23 in-coming full-time students at NYU’s graduate schools.

The David Bohnett Scholarship offers full tuition for MPA and MUP candidates who have expressed interest in working in municipal government to solve pressing social issues. Many more named scholarships and fellowships are on Wagner’s site.

Listen to this podcast show featuring Wagner’s career guru David Schachter.

Read more about grad school and financing your education on Idealist’s Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center.

This week our graduate admissions fairs are in the Midwest—St. Louis tomorrow night! Then next week the South! Durham (Oct. 27), New Orleans (Oct. 30) and Atlanta (Nov. 3).

Applying to U.S. grad schools from abroad

Are you a U.S. citizen working or volunteering abroad? Know someone who is?

Check out the newest article on‘s Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center: Applying to a U.S. Grad School as a U.S. Citizen Living Abroad.

The article offers considerations for working with your local mail system, finding test prep materials and taking tests, and finding good alternatives to the campus visit. grad fairs are not as useful if you can’t participate, however, you can and should check out the list of registered schools at some of the events (for example the 117 schools at this week’s San Francisco fair and or the 107 schools registered for the Los Angeles event).

Also note that Idealist is still looking for bloggers including current or former term-of-service participants (like Peace Corps and VSO volunteers), and people crossing borders to attend grad school.

The Grad School Campus Visit

Top things to know when you are shopping for schools

I don’t travel to as many of our graduate admissions fairs as I used to, but when I do I love to hear from admissions staff who table at the events about their day-to-day activities back at school. Over time I have had quite a few conversations about the Campus Visit and wanted to share some nuggets of wisdom here.

Visiting the admissions office:

One recent discussion was with Emmett Griffin of Georgetown Public Policy Institute about prospective students’s visits to his office. These are his tips:

As with any professional encounter, it’s wise to make an appointment with an admissions officer, a week ahead of time if possible. Admissions staff are busy. You’ll make a much better first impression if you set up a time to meet, and they are expecting you.

Read before you go. Of course you want to ask a lot of questions. But before asking anything of a school’s faculty or staff, read the web site and/or any available print material. Those will likely answer a lot of your questions, and you’ll make a better first impression if you have done your homework (this is, er, school, after all). (Imagine if you had a job where you were constantly asked questions — wouldn’t you answer all the most common questions on your web site and in your brochures?)

What if you happen to be visiting a city for other reasons and decide to drop by campus for an unannounced visit? Still call ahead, even if it’s just an hour ahead — and read as much as you can, even if it’s skimming all you can get your hands on in the admissions office itself, before chatting with an admissions officer.

Visiting classes:

The tips below are from conversations with Idealist’s Graduate Admissions Advisory Board (of which Emmett Griffin is a member):

Consider visiting a class or two while you are on campus.  But do not show up to a class unannounced. Schools love for prospective students to sit in on a class or two and will have different policies about how to set up the class visit.

Contact your target school’s admissions office, or the department. Sometimes you can sign up for a class visit right on the web site, other times the admissions office will direct you to the registrar or individual professor.

Also, professors might want you to have read some course materials ahead of time and expect you to participate in class discussions. Find out about these expectations ahead of time, if possible.

Other activities while you are on campus:

• Talk with someone in the career center about internship and career transitions support (grad schools often have their own career office)
• Meet with a current student to ask what it’s like to be a student there (see this article about informational interviews)
• Participate in a campus tour; many schools offer these a few times per day. The admissions office can let you know the details

Before you go, write a list of questions and/or considerations you’d like to keep in mind on the day of your visit. It might also be a good idea to jot down your top priorities in a school so you can objectively evaluate your experience later on. For example, if you intend to use the athletic facilities, you’d want to make sure you get to see them and find out how much (if anything) it costs to use them. You might be looking for an academically rigorous environment, or a lot of support setting up excellent internships.


When you get home, reflect on your list of questions:

√ What did I learn?
√ How interested am I in exploring this academic program further?
√ What values, skills, and interests of mine fit – or don’t fit – with the degree, department, or student culture?
√ What are my next steps from here?


After you visit, send thank-you notes to the professors, students and staff you met with. You can have the thank-you notes stamped, addressed and ready to go (save for writing the note itself) when you arrive on campus. As your last stop on campus, take a few minutes over coffee or lunch to write the notes, and pop them in the nearest mail box. The important thing is to make  the note meaningful, and to state something specific you learned. If possible, enclose your business card in the envelope.

Read more about grad school choices, admissions, and financial aid.

Find an Graduate Degree Fair for the Public Good in a city near you. (We are only going to 18 cities this year — we are genuinely sorry if we miss yours.) We’re coming to Philadelphia Monday 9/22, then off to the West Coast!

Blog for us (deadline extended).