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Challenge accepted: Alumni step up to support PPIA and student internships

March 2, 2022

For 40 years, the Ford School’s Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute fellowship (formerly known as the Sloan or Woodrow Wilson fellowship)—a program designed to build diversity in public service—has provided a foundation of public policy education to hundreds of rising college juniors from schools across the country.

In celebration of this milestone anniversary, four Ford School PPIA/MPP alumni challenged their peers to support diversity in public service. They pledged to match dollar for dollar (up to $5,000) all gifts that go toward either 1) the PPIA program, or 2) support for master’s level internships that focus on advancing marginalized communities.  

The challenge ended at the end of 2021, and our generous alumni knocked it out of the park, with gifts that totalled $11,400. Approximately half of the donations will go toward internships, and half to support the Ford School’s PPIA program. 

It means a lot to be able to help support future leaders in public service and give back to a program that means so much to me.

Elise Lee (MPP ‘92)

The alumni who initiated the challenge, Sukhi Dosanjh (MPP ‘01), Bianca Gaytan-Burrell (MPP ‘01), Kieu-Anh King (MPP ‘01), and Michael Thompson (MPP ‘01), said they are thrilled that their challenge has been met. 

”It means a lot to be able to help support future leaders in public service and give back to a program that means so much to me,” said Elise Lee (MPP ‘92), who took part in the campaign.

Ford School Dean Michael Barr saluted the effort. “I'm so proud that the Ford School is only one of a handful of schools that has run the PPIA Junior Summer Institute since its inception 40 years ago. PPIA gives undergraduate students underrepresented in public policy a comprehensive preparation for the rigors of graduate school and an essential introduction to careers in public service. I am so thrilled by the passion and loyalty PPIA alumni have for the program, and for their enthusiastic outpouring of support!”

We are also proud of what our PPIA alumni have done with their careers! Our fall 2021 edition of the school magazine, State & Hill, celebrated the program and featured dozens of alumni reflections on PPIA’s impact and their favorite Junior Summer Institute memories.