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Each year, we transform outstanding students into frontline advocates for democracy.

Democracy Summer is an innovative internship program that exposes young leaders to new ideas and political movements, teaching them how to organize people around a shared vision for a better democracy in our state. The program also equips young people with lifelong skills that they can use to work for positive social change in their communities.

Program Overview

Every summer, Democracy NC — a nonpartisan organization that seeks to increase voter participation — hires rising sophomores, juniors and seniors from NC community colleges, colleges and universities to work as paid student organizers for nine weeks under the guidance of an experienced Democracy NC organizer. Students work in organizing teams of two in Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greenville, Winston-Salem, and Asheville.

Student organizers work full-time (including some evenings and weekends) from late May to late July and earn a stipend of $3,000 for the summer. This is a full-time job, so students who have to do summer classes or have other, part-time work cannot realistically participate in the program.

“I joined Democracy NC because I realized how critical their strategies and tactics are for advancing the struggle for voting rights. ” –Ajamu Dillahunt, North Carolina Central University

Democracy Summer starts with a mandatory 3-day training retreat. Then, student organizers work in their host city, organizing for social change. They interact with civic leaders and veteran activists, meet elected officials, experience working with the media and gain an insider’s view of the political climate, legislative process and power structure in North Carolina.

[Read an op-ed from Democracy Summer 2017 graduate and Central Piedmont intern Kristen Marion]

[Listen to a radio segment from Democracy Summer 2017 graduates and Southeastern interns Chyna Melton and Austin Padilla]

Who Can Apply

Students must be able to participate in the entire summer program to be eligible.

Democracy Summer is ideal for students interested in a career in public service, politics, a non-profit field, or community-based work. All rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors enrolled in NC community colleges, colleges, and universities are eligible to apply. Because student organizers are responsible for covering their own housing, most participants apply to work in cities were they have family or other living arrangements available. The ideal applicant will have:

  • A passion for social and economic justice
  • An ability to communicate with diverse groups of people
  • An interest in and general understanding of politics
  • Strong public speaking skills
  • An ability to work independently and as part of a team

 Please check back in January 2018 for how to apply for Summer 2018.