High School Internship Program

Our signature High School Internship Program provides skills training, mentoring, and paid internships to underserved high school seniors who are at risk of disconnecting from school or the workforce.


Instead of learning in the classroom, we were working on site and experiencing the professional world. We now have professional connections and mentors.

  • Raheim Davis, Washington, DC  – High School Internship Class of 2012

How does the internship work?

Work Throughout Your Senior Year

Paid interns work part-time during the school year (Monday-Thursday for up to 12 hours per week) and full-time during the summer – Monday-Thursday for up to 32 hours per week.

Dedicated Support From Two Caring Adults

Each intern is assigned a dedicated Urban Alliance program coordinator, as well as a one-on-one workplace mentor, who provide support to guide the intern’s professional development and post-high school planning.

Professional Skills Development Workshops

Urban Alliance interns complete approximately six weeks of pre-employment job skills training, and then transition into weekly post-high school planning and job and life skills workshops for the duration of their internship.


  • What is Urban Alliance?

    Urban Alliance is building a diverse next-generation workforce by providing job skills training, mentoring, and paid internships to high school youth from under-resourced communities, predominantly youth of color. Since 1996, we’ve provided over 6,000 internships to youth across greater Washington, DC (including Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, MD, and Northern Virginia), Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit.

    We fight for equity by empowering students to dream big and achieve economic mobility, predominantly youth of color with traditionally limited access to upwardly-mobile careers. Our work supports the development of diverse talent pipelines while preventing disconnection from school or the workforce. ​

    In partnership with over 200 employers, we level the playing field for young people in the workforce by equipping them with the tools to overcome the systemic barriers that prevent equal access to economic opportunity.


  • What can Urban Alliance do for high school seniors?

    Urban Alliance’s core program targets underserved high school seniors at risk of disconnection and at a pivotal point in their development – just on the cusp of adulthood. The program matches students with paid, professional internships, job skills training, one-on-one mentoring, and ongoing post-program support to prevent disconnection before it happens – and ensure that youth remain connected to pathways toward economic success post-high school.

    Research and evaluation has shown that comprehensive efforts to introduce youth to employment are a promising solution to help high school students avoid disconnection. Early access to job training, networks, and opportunities can help students connect and persist in any pathway— college, career, or vocational training. Urban Alliance’s uniquely comprehensive approach exposes interns to new professional pathways, removes barriers to success, and helps to ensure long-term connections to the workforce.

  • What is the history of Urban Alliance?

    In 1996, a young woman at Anacostia Senior High School in Washington, DC said that what young people really needed to be successful were real, meaningful jobs. Urban Alliance founder Andrew Plepler, then an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department, listened, found that student an internship, and enlisted five of his friends to do the same for other students. That experience led to the creation of Urban Alliance.

    Urban Alliance has since provided over 6,000 students with internships in professional settings such as law firms, banks, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations. The organization has also served over 21,000 students through curriculum outreach. With over 25 years of experience providing evidence-based workforce interventions to thousands of economically-disadvantaged students in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and the Greater DC Region, Urban Alliance has a proven track record of improving post-high-school outcomes for underserved youth.

  • Who participates in the Urban Alliance program?

    Urban Alliance serves high school youth from under-resourced communities who are on the cusp of transitioning to adulthood, but are at risk of disconnecting from pathways to economic self-sufficiency, and lack access to the skills, experience, access, and networks needed for economic success.

    Rising seniors are eligible to apply for Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program if they are a) students at a UA partner school, b) currently in their junior year of high school, c) on track to graduate with at least a 2.0 GPA, and d) authorized for an off-campus/early release schedule.

  • How do we know this program works?

    Since 1996, Urban Alliance has partnered with over 500 businesses and 100 schools to provide over 6,000 young people with paid internships and another 21,000+ youth with professional development training. 100 percent of Urban Alliance students graduate from high school; over 90 percent are accepted to college. A further 80 percent of enrolled alumni persist to a second year in college, and 80 percent of all alumni are connected to a college, career, or career-training pathway one year post-program.

    A recent six-year randomized controlled trial conducted by the Urban Institute found that completing Urban Alliance’s flagship High School Internship Program had a statistically significant impact on young men attending college (by 23 percentage points), mid-GPA students enrolling in four-year colleges (by 18 percentage points), and students’ retention of professional soft skills.