PSSI:  Public Service Summer Institute

The Public Service Summer Institute (PSSI) connects 12-15 F&M rising Juniors and Seniors with an 8-week opportunity to work individually at a local nonprofit or government entity while also exploring a broader local community issue/opportunity as an active member of a cohort.

Questions?  Contact  Lisa Wolfe, Director of the Ware Institute.

Institute Information

What is PSSI?

The Public Service Summer Institute began in 1994 in response to an institutional belief that a true liberal arts education includes making meaningful contributions to one’s community.  The program has evolved from focusing predominantly on the internship experience to one that places equal value on the learning and personal development that happens through the combination of both the collective cohort experience and the individual internships. Students are paid $4,000 by the College for the 8-week program (housing is not included).

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  • At Wharton Elementary, F&M students play a game with kids during their summer program.
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What do PSSI students do?

Under the guidance of carefully selected mentor-supervisors, PSSI students work 32 hours per week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at a local nonprofit or government entity in an internship role that will either help their assigned organization expand capacity or evaluate current efforts.  Every Wednesday, PSSI students come together as a cohort to embark on a hands-on exploration of a broader local community issue/opportunity while meeting a variety of local stakeholders, and experts along the way. At the end of their 8-week experience, the cohort spends their final Wednesday cohort meeting sharing their insights and possible solutions to that same issue/opportunity with an invested group of community stakeholders.

Program Dates:
June 2 – July 29, 2022

PSSI will begin on Thursday, June 2 with a two-day orientation. All students will begin their individual internship experiences on Monday, June 6, 2022. You must be available to work June 2-July 29.


Contact  Lisa Wolfe, Director of the Ware Institute.



Important Application Dates/Deadlines for Students:
March 2 – March 20, 2022                     

PSSI Student Application Period
The deadline for F&M rising Juniors and Seniors to Submit a PSSI Student Application is March 20, at 11:59 pm EST.

We strongly encourage all applicants to schedule a meeting with an OSPGD Adviser as soon as possible to review their resumes and discuss their essays prior to submitting their applications. Note: essays are reviewed by Ware Institute staff, not community partners.

Student Application Form 


PSSI Community Partner Expectations

To be eligible to participate in the PSSI program, community partners must be either a nonprofit or a government entity and agree to offer an on-site experience (we are planning for on-site internships but will swith to virtual if warranted) for an F&M student that includes:

  • Opportunity for PSSI intern to have ownership of and/or take responsibility for at least one specific project for the length of the PSSI program and an opportunity to present findings/results/recommendations of the assigned project to appropriate organizational representatives in either a formal oral and/or written format. Your organization's project should be described in your initial PSSI job description and can be but are not limited to:

    • Research on growth opportunities, best practices, community needs and/or existing community assets

    • Direct instruction/facilitation of an activity/program as a means of informing research or evaluating its success

    • Development of an assessment/evaluation tool

    • Collection and interpretation of program/service-specific data

    • Development and/or implementation of growth strategy, capacity building initiatives and/or applicable tools, i.e. marketing/promotion, fundraising, service delivery, etc.

  • A direct supervisor who is:

    • Excited about the opportunity to mentor a traditional college-age individual

    • Able to offer an experience that combines hands-on, big picture and indirect exposure to the work of his/her organization

    • Committed to meeting 1-on-1 with PSSI intern a minimum of once a week throughout the 8-week program

    • Able to attend a mandatory PSSI supervisor training prior to the start of the program

  • An 8-hour workday on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays from June 6 – July 29, 2022, with dedicated on-site workspace and access to necessary IT, office supplies, etc., and a daily mix of tasks that includes no more than 25% administrative support type work.

  • Initial training involving other key personnel from within your organization that provides the PSSI student with a basic level of understanding of organizational:

    • History, mission & values

    • Strategic priorities

    • Service Lines, target audiences

    • Organizational and governance structure

    • Funding streams and process(es) used to secure funds

    • Financial processes

    • Community collaborations

    • Measurements of success


PSSI Student Expectations

To be eligible for the PSSI program, F&M students must:

  • Be a rising Junior or Senior
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher
  • Be a student in good standing (not on academic or disciplinary probation)
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Demonstrate a strong desire to immerse themselves in the everyday work of a local nonprofit or government entity while also learning about broader community issues. 

Each PSSI student experience will include:

  • An internship component that will include:

    • Ownership of and/or responsibility for at least one specific project or task.

    • The opportunity to present results of project/task to direct supervisor and/or organizational leaders in either a formal oral and/or written format.

    • A direct supervisor from within the partnering organization.

  • A cohort component that will include:

    • A hands-on exploration of a current or emerging local community issue/opportunity.

    • Team building, training, discussion, discovery, and reflection with a peer group

    • The opportunity to work in a smaller team to develop/propose possible solutions to said issue.

  • The stipend is paid every other week over the length of the program for a total of $4,000.

My PSSI Experience 

Story 12/13/2018

Robert Maze, Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 Student Growth Coach

I have learned more about myself and the ability I have to contribute to growing communities. I am very grateful to have been able to ask questions that may have not answers at the moment because it...

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Story 12/13/2018

Vivian Valentin, Lancaster County Community Foundation...

The PSSI program allowed me to gain insights into community building that changed my perspective on just how important our environment is to our experiences.  

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Story 11/19/2018

Katelin Dao, Community Health & Wellness Intern

In this internship, I’ve gotten to see first hand what kind of efforts and initiatives are at the forefront of addressing the top three health challenges facing Lancaster County. 

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