Internships With the Ford Foundation

Seeking College Students Interested in Social Change

Office manager meeting with two trainees
Zero Creatives / Getty Images

The Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice offers paid internships for college students from the New York City area who likely lack the financial resources to accept unpaid internships. Foundation president Darren Walker wrote in a 2016 New York Times op-ed that unpaid internships favor those who already are economically advantaged.

"While some students take a summer job in food service to pay the bills, others can afford to accept unpaid jobs at high-profile organizations, setting them on a more lucrative path," he wrote.

Through its internship program, the Ford Foundation aims to level the playing field.

The Foundation

With more than $12 billion in assets as of 2019, the Ford Foundation has spent an average of $573 million per year on grants and other charitable programming from 2014 through 2018 to support social justice initiatives, according to its 2018 financial statement.

According to its website, the foundation's mission includes reducing poverty and injustice, strengthening democratic values, promoting international cooperation, and advancing human achievement.

Edsel Ford, son of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, began the foundation in 1936 using a gift of $25,000.

When Henry Ford II, Edsel Ford's son, took the helm of the foundation in the 1940s, it was the largest philanthropic organization in the world. In 1949, the foundation made fighting poverty and promoting peace and educational opportunities part of its mission. The foundation moved to New York in 1967. It is an independent organization run by a 16-member board.


The foundation's internship program runs for 10 weeks from early June through mid-August at the foundation's office in Manhattan and pays $23 per hour, as of 2019. Applicants must be entering their junior or senior years of college, and they must be residents of New York City or certain surrounding areas in the states of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. They also must be receiving need-based financial aid and have a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Assignments cover a variety of fields and offer administrative, analytical, research, and project experience. Experience includes site visits with grantees. Students also attend weekly learning sessions that include opportunities to meet with senior foundation staff members. There, students learn proper business etiquette, discuss how to begin the career planning process, and develop contacts.

A group question-and-answer session with the foundation president Darren Walker is part of the internship program.

Positions in grant-making programs cover:

  • Democracy, rights, and justice
  • Economic opportunity and assets
  • Education, creativity and free expression

Additional positions are available in departments including:

  • Communications
  • Facilities management
  • Financial services
  • Human resources
  • Information management
  • Information technology
  • Investments
  • Legal services
  • Program services

To Apply

The application process opens in mid-November every year for the following summer. Applicants should submit a resume and a cover letter that explains what they hope to gain from the internship experience. The foundation receives many applications and does not provide feedback on all of them. Candidates chosen for the next step in the process will be invited for an interview. Those chosen to advance beyond that step will be invited for a final interview with a department manager and other team members.

Key Takeaways

  • Internships run from June to August.
  • The application process begins in November.
  • Applicants must be residents of the New York tri-state area, which includes parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • Applicants must be eligible for need-based financial aid.