As an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, I spent all four years with a student organization and academic program called the Global Information Internship Program (GIIP), now called the Everett Program. It teaches undergrads how to become “social justice entrepreneurs”, by training them in practical tech skills, as well as in professional advocacy, such as doing needs analyses, project management, grant writing, and other tools to execute an internship with a non-profit.
About 17 years after it began, it’s now a Major and Minor study under the UCSC Sociology department and it get a yearly contribution of 0.33% of the student body’s combined tuition (a couple $10,000’s per year) following a student initiative that was a passed by vote. It then received an endowment that supports the staffing and management of the program, establishing a new chair for the program—the Dorothy E. Everett Chair, named after a woman who spent years dedicated to the cause of free, universal higher education in the state of California.
So this past weekend we celebrated the retirement of the incredible sociology professor, and my mentor, Paul Lubeck, who built this program, and the launch of the new Chair of the Everett Program, Chris Benner. It was really exciting to see how much the program has grown and to think about new ways it will continue to expand.
The Everett Program is what converted me from an unfocused student with broad, but deep discontent about the world, into a practical, effective advocate and activist. It changed my life most profoundly because it was a program that was run *by* undergraduate students *for* undergraduate students. It taught us how to take ourselves as activists seriously in a way that most of us never knew how.
So now, as a big side project to my work at EFF, I’ve founded an alumni foundation to connect all the incredible people who’ve gone through this program together. Between the more than 100 of us, we have resources, experiences, and networks that can be harnessed and shared to make us all more involved in pragmatic change-making.