Bloomberg Philanthropies Expands Innovative Arts Internship Program

The expansion of BAI to two new cities is fueled by the success of the program to date.

By: May. 21, 2024
Bloomberg Philanthropies Expands Innovative Arts Internship Program
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Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced an expansion of the Bloomberg Arts Internship (BAI) program, which for 12 years has placed rising public high school seniors in over 1,700 paid seven-week long summer internships at more than 250 cultural organizations. In the summer of 2024, the program will expand to Detroit and New Orleans while continuing in Baltimore, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Additionally, BAI is expanding to include internships for college students in the seven cities. Beginning in 2024, the program will offer more than 1,100 internships at over 150 cultural institutions. Bloomberg Arts Internship is the largest – and one of just a few – programs that offers paid internships for high school students in the cultural sector in the United States.

The expansion of BAI to two new cities is fueled by the success of the program to date. Program evaluator WolfBrown has found that internship alumni are improving their writing proficiency and enrolling in college at rates far higher than the national average. This demonstrates that BAI offers not only sector-specific work experience but also trains interns in universally applicable skills and places them on the path to college.

This summer, BAI will pilot an extension of the program for BAI graduates who are now in college and live in any of the current BAI cities. The extension comes in response to interest from both BAI alumni and participating cultural organizations in providing ongoing opportunities for professional development in the field of arts administration. The new element of the program is being offered in partnership with Studio Institute, which has placed college-age students in paid summer internships in the cultural sector since 1999 in multiple U.S. cities.

“By expanding the Bloomberg Arts Internship program to Detroit and New Orleans, more talented young people will gain access to valuable skills that will empower them to pursue careers in the arts,” said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “When this program began 12 years ago, it started with 25 students in New York City, and we’re glad that it has grown to serve over thousands of students across seven cities. None of this progress would be possible without our partners and now we will open even more doors of opportunity for young people.”

A proven model for career development, civic engagement, and college prep:

By partnering with public schools and paying a living wage, BAI reaches students from all backgrounds and helps them secure workforce experience that is crucial to accessing future education and career opportunities. Students who could benefit from the program are identified by public school districts, teachers, citywide youth employment programs, and affiliated nonprofits that work with youth. The Bloomberg Arts Internship program works with local partners in each city to manage all aspects of the program such as coordinating with high schools to recruit potential interns; securing worksite placements at cultural organizations; and coordinating workshops, mentoring, and field trips. Local program partners include: Arts for Learning Maryland (Baltimore), EdVestors (Boston), CultureSource (Detroit), KID smART (New Orleans), Studio Institute (New York), Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (Philadelphia), and Sitar Arts Center (Washington D.C.).

The Bloomberg Arts Internship helps students develop skills, including communication, problem-solving, and team building, that are essential for any professional field while encouraging awareness of culture as an industry and a civic resource. Participating work sites include not only museums and theaters, but also historic houses, community gardens, set design shops, jewelry design studios, arts education organizations, architecture studios, graphic design firms, small art galleries and much more. For the first time this summer, some of the work sites will be for-profit institutions that are aligned with the program’s mission. For a full list of participating cultural institutions and businesses in this summer’s program, click here.

BAI participants also benefit from mentoring and weekly classroom workshops where they sharpen their writing skills and receive guidance on navigating the college application process, including how to improve their college essays and scholarship applications. Students complete the program with a portfolio of work that includes a cover letter, resume, and work samples from their internship. The BAI summer program also provides weekly visits to cultural institutions, which include special tours and career panels with working arts professionals. In response to the post-pandemic, ongoing mental health crisis for young people, the program’s curriculum includes mental health awareness and support components.

Program evaluator WolfBrown found that 80% of 2017-2022 program alumni report being currently enrolled in college or technical school, compared to 53% of high school graduates nationally. Further, 79% of interns since 2018 increased their writing proficiency — as measured by program evaluators via a nationally-used scoring metric —with close to 60% of interns achieving scores that would exempt them from remedial college coursework.


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