By Ali Dougal
College Guild Intern
Only a few short weeks ago, I joined the College Guild team as an intern. As a Bowdoin college student unconventionally taking the year off from classes, I wanted to find a way to spend my year in a meaningful way, even during a pandemic. After hearing about College Guild’s mission to provide free correspondence courses to incarcerated people, I thought that getting involved could be a great way to learn new perspectives, contribute to helping others, and find meaning in a new experience, even during a time when COVID restricts so much.
As an intern for CG amidst the pandemic, in a heightened time of social justice movements nationwide, and while taking the year off from classes, I am stepping away from learning in the traditional classroom. Instead, I have immersed myself into an organization that strives to use education to tackle the issues of mass incarceration. I have learned so much already about the big reach of such a relatively small nonprofit right in my own college town and hope to share some of what I have experienced so far.
One of the first things I encountered while becoming part of the inner workings of a small nonprofit is how to define success in a world centered around money and profit. Before working with CG, I thought that the typical business environment was very removed from the nonprofit world. However, I realized that as with anything else, CG needs funding to reach people in prisons across the country. The difference is that most businesses work for personal gain, striving for monetary rewards. However, non-profit organizations like CG work to have everlasting change on its constituents. Grants and generous donations are applied to a population that is often forgotten, treated poorly, and thought of negatively. As a result, they leave a profound impact that continues to change lives of both our imprisoned students and volunteers. Success to CG is about using resources and the valuable work of our staff and volunteers to treat our students with respect, provide room for growth and positivity, and ultimately reduce rates of recidivism. Anyone involved with CG can see how their gifts, time, and effort actively changes lives, all through the power of education.
As an intern, I hope to help CG grow to reach more students through learning from such a hard-working group of people. I am looking forward to diving in deeper to CG, becoming a better advocate for the work CG does, and giving updates through this blog along the way.