2020 AFSCME Union Scholars Program

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is pleased to partner with Harvard University’s Labor and Worklife Program to sponsor the Union Scholars Program. AFSCME is one of the nation’s largest labor unions, representing public service employees and retirees across the country. Harvard’s Labor and Worklife Program, located in the Harvard Law School, is the university’s center for research, teaching and creative problem-solving related to the world of work.

The Union Scholars Program is a 10-week summer internship for students of color who are passionate about social justice, with an emphasis on workers’ rights. Entry to the Union Scholars Program is competitive.

Students will take part in a hands-on organizing experience with AFSCME members, and will enjoy an opportunity to travel and receive valuable, resume-building experience – all while getting paid.


Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the scholarship, you must:

  • Be an undergraduate sophomore or junior at the time of the application and the interview process
  • Have a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade point average
  • Be a college student of color including: African-American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian-Pacific Islander, Latin American
  • Demonstrate interest in working for social and economic justice through the labor union movement
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Provide a faculty recommendation

Selection Process

  • It takes approximately a month to determine candidates that will move to the final phase of interviewing. This happens between the first and fourth weeks of March.
  • We will reach out to all candidates by phone or email to inform them if they will move on to the interviewing phase.
  • Interviews will take place during the first two weeks of April.
  • Selection of the cohort takes place in the second week of April.
  • We will reach out to make travel arrangements between April and May.
  • Orientation for the 2020 Union Scholars Program will take place June 5-7, 2020.

Selected Participants Will Receive:

Selected AFSCME Union Scholars will receive a three-day orientation to prepare for their internship. They will also receive a 10-week field placement in the summer of 2020, when the student will participate in a union organizing campaign in one of several locations across the United States. Students who enter the program as sophomores are eligible to return for a second year. Returning students may receive a 10-week summer placement at AFSCME headquarters in Washington, D.C. All chosen candidates will receive the following:

  • A stipend
  • On-site housing
  • A three-day orientation and training program prior to the field assignment
  • A three-day debriefing program after the internship is completed
  • Upon successful completion of the program, an academic scholarship based on financial need

2020 Program Dates

  • For students on a semester schedule: June 8 – August 14
  • For students on a quarter schedule: June 15 – August 21


  • Conducts one-on-one organizing, recruits supporters and leaders and guides their activities on behalf of the union, under the direction of their supervisor and mentor
  • Recruits volunteer organizers from within the AFSCME membership
  • Visits job sites to communicate with workers
  • Visits workers in their homes
  • Informs supervisor & mentor of developments and progress of organizing activity
  • Completes weekly reports (to be submitted to program coordinator)
  • Submits videography footage (to be submitted to program coordinator)
  • Reports to and takes direction from supervisor
  • Collaborates with mentor on projects