During the early spring of 2019, The DMC invited institutions of higher education across the state to send in applications for the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program (JOIP). Established in 2008, the David Mathews Center’s longest running program, lovingly named in honor of Mrs. Jean O’Connor – Snyder, provides experiential learning opportunities for Alabama’s undergraduate students. Over the past eleven years the DMC has funded JOIP programs in twelve Alabama colleges and universities, engaging over 210 students who worked in 22 different Alabama counties. 

The David Mathews Center is excited to work with eight programs for the 2019-2020 funding year!


Each JOIP proposal is a unique partnership between the DMC, an institution of higher education, and a community partner. During this program year, 32 students, pursuing higher education at eight different Alabama universities and colleges, will have the opportunity to work in thirteen Alabama counties as JOIP interns.These internship experiences provide college students the opportunity to collaborate with community members in addressing common concerns through the use of deliberative practices. 

32 students, 8 institutions of higher education,  13 Alabama counties  


In September, the faculty coordinators for the eight JOIP experiences gathered at The David Mathews Center office to officially kick off the beginning of this new cohort. These university administrators and professors will serve as advisors for their institutions’ JOIP interns, teaching asset-based community development and public deliberation. At the beginning of 2020, the David Mathews Center looks forward to hosting the 2019- 2020 JOIP cohort retreat. This event will allow civically-minded students and internship coordinators to engage with one another, brainstorm together, and learn alongside each other.

2019 JOIP Retreat

The David Mathews Center for Civic Life is proud to announce the 2019- 2020 Jean O’Connor – Snyder Internship Program.


The University of South Alabama will participate as a JOIP Program for their first year, through the commencement of the Delta Fellows Internship Program. The 2019 – 2020 cohort of four Delta Fellows will focus on the Blakeley Bluff region as they engage in immersive civic learning in the Moblie-Tensaw Delta. Dr. Kathy Cooke, Dean of the Honors College and Professor of History, Shannon Shelley-Tremblay, Director of the Office of Community Engagement, and Dr. Kern Jackson, Director of African American Studies, will lead the Delta Fellows as they engage in deliberative dialogue with local experts to capture narratives about myths, traditions, history, and science that relates to the region. The students will participate in a Spring 2020 course, in preparation for the six-week summer intensive. 

Historic Blakeley Park

Southern Union State Community College (SUSCC) will participate as a JOIP program for their second year, administering the Southern Union Community Engagement Internship Program (SUCEIP). Coordinated by the Valley Campus Director, Robin Brown, and the Wadley Campus English Professor, Dr. Pam Horn, four SUSCC students will enroll in two courses, Directed Studies in Leadership and Writing for Mass Media to prepare for a summer long immersive civic engagement experience in Chambers and Clay counties. Brown and Horn believe in “civic engagement as crucial to the process of education and citizenship for our students.”

Southern Union State Community College Wadley Campus

Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University (AAMU), under the leadership of Monica Clarke, Coordinator of Service Learning, continues their JOIP program for a third year. Three AAMU students will continue to build relationships with their university neighbor, the Edmonton Heights Community. This year the interns will focus on opportunities for economic development, partnering with the Community Development Corporation and the Neighborhood Association to coordinate community workshops in technology, job skills training, and financial literacy. The JOIPs will host community roundtable discussions throughout the academic year to offer avenues for the community to define their challenges, identify possible solutions, and act together in response to these conversations.

Edmonton Heights Community

The Foley Fellowship in Civic Leadership Program at Spring Hill College started its third year as a JOIP this Fall. The Fellowship, administered by Dr. Erik Goldschmidt, Director of The Foley Community Service Center, will recruit a 2019-2020 cohort of 10 students to engage in an academic year – long series of experience learning opportunities with the community of Africatown. This program will partner with Africatown C.H.E.S.S. and the Mobile County Training School Alumni Association to facilitate community meetings, learning the victories and challenges of this historic town. The student fellows will continue to engage with residents through an oral history project, “gaining an appreciation of the importance of a narrative approach to telling the story of a community”.

Spring Hill Foley Fellows at the 2019 JOIP Retreat in Montgomery

Troy University’s Real Talk on Race project, continuing into a second year, “focuses on how communities and institutions can address the issue of race through community outreach and education that leads to civic learning and deliberative dialogue”. Jonathan Cellon, Associate Dean of the Center for Student Success, and Lauren Cochran, Coordinator of Civic Engagement at Troy, will work with two student interns, one from Troy University and other from Troy University’s Montgomery campus to create space for deliberation on their respective campuses, in their communities, and between their campuses and communities. Cellon and Cochran will encourage both interns to work to identify and engage assets and partnerships to enhance civic capacity and efficacy in matters of race. 

Troy University’s Real Talk on Race presenting at the 2019 Civic Institute

The University of Montevallo 2019 – 2020 JOIP intern will assist UM professor and Montevallo Mayor, Dr. Hollie Cost in the facilitation of the Montevallo Junior City Council (MCJJ) and Students’ Institute (SI) programming. Over the past 7 years, the Students’ Institute directly engaged approximately 340 youth and 45 university students in a series of public deliberations and field trips developing their knowledge of citizenship and the community in which they reside. The JOIP intern will continue to recruit a diverse group of students from the Montevallo Public School System to participate in the MJCC or the SI by intentionally providing programming within the city’s schools. 

2019 Students Institute

Since 2011, The University of Alabama’s New College facilitated the Walker County Internship Program in partnership with the Walker Area Community Foundation (six years as a Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program). The Walker County Internship is an “eight-week community-embedded service-learning internship” where UA students, from across academic disciplines, intern for the summer with local organizations to address one of the three specific areas identified by the Walker Area Community Foundation Strategic Plan: health, education, or community development. John Miller, the Assistant Director of New College, works to prepare these students during the Spring semester for an internship placement based on students’ interests and the community’s needs. 

2019 Walker County Intern, Vaughn Gingerich, speaking with Jasper Mayor O’Mary

Auburn University’s Living Democracy Program will place university students in four separate communities for a ten week summer immersion experience. Dr. Mark Wilson, Director of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities, and  Professor Nan Fairley, Associate Professor of Journalism recruit student interns who, by the end of the experience, will understand democratic practices in a community, exercise collaborative skills, identify community assets, and develop writing skills “as a tool for community development.” Each week, Auburn’s Living Democracy students submit a community journalism piece to be posted on the Living Democracy blog, encouraging reflection and intentional conversations while living in community.

2019 Auburn Living Democracy intern, Melissa Dennis

If you are interested in learning more about the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program, we would love to meet with you! Please email executive director, Cristin Brawner, at cfoster@mathewscenter.org

To learn more about the experiences of former JOIP interns, visit the Mathews Center blog and read the Civic Dispatch series.

If you would like to contribute to the expansion of the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program, please consider donating to the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Fund for Civic Education. We look forward to expanding civic education programming so more students across the state have opportunities to learn from our Alabama communities.