The Mills College Institute for Civic Leadership has been awarded $320,000 in federal funding.
The grant, secured by Mills alumna Rep. Barbara Lee, will be used to further young women’s engagement in politics.
“The program focuses on women’s leadership styles, seeks to put them into context, and to erase the feelings of inadequacy women often feel when expected to lead in male-dominant roles. The empowerment to be gained from the exploration and critique of traditional power structures is immeasurable,” said ICL student Michaela Daystar.
A semester-long program, which includes three classes and an internship, is offered to Mills students and other women across the country. Fifteen women are chosen after an application process involving two essays, a writing sample and other requirements.
Funds from several sources are used to support incoming students with supplemental scholarships and are also used for stipends for incoming speakers and to hold events that bring the political community together.
The Mills Web site said, “Students examine the intellectual foundations of civic life and democracy while developing knowledge of the skills and strategies needed for civic leadership. Students learn to critically analyze social and political issues associated with their internship, and more generally the ways academic knowledge can inform the design of desirable public policies.”
One ICL student, Leah Herrera, said as a young woman activist, she feels “absolutely grateful” to be in ICL.
“We have mentors who are amazing and guide us. We have professors who challenge and nurture us. We have a mixed bag with respect to race, so we learn a lot about working in a diverse setting. We basically have it all. Moreover, we have the essential support system that so many women setting out on the activist track lack. So in a nutshell, I love ICL,” said Herrera.
According to Program and Student Life Coordinator Rachel Levine, this fall there are 12 students in the ICL program, five from Mills, three from UC Berkeley, one from Carleton College in Minnesota, one from Beloit College in Wisconsin, one from Spelman College in Atlanta, and one from Occidental College in Los Angeles.
Levine said the program is on its fifth year and has implemented changes such as holding a community dinner night with the Social Justice floor in Orchard Meadow and breaking down classes into small groups so that students can reflect on their experience in the internship and in the program.