Future Leaders Project

As Southwest Washington grows, so does the need to have people in leadership positions that reflect the growing diversity of our community.

The Future Leaders Project (FLP) is an initiative of Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW), Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC), and Washington State University Vancouver (WSU Vancouver) that aims to cultivate diverse leaders for our growing community. FLP places WSU Vancouver students from communities that have experienced longstanding inequities and exclusion and first-generation college students in employer sponsored summer internships, providing many benefits to both the student interns and their host companies.

Hosting Future Leaders Interns can provide your company with:

  • New ideas and fresh perspective, as interns bring enthusiasm and diverse points of view.
  • Much needed support for projects that employees might otherwise not have the time to complete.
  • Proven, cost-effective way to recruit and evaluate potential permanent employees.
  • Opportunities for staff to gain supervisory skills through mentoring and managing interns.
  • Effective public relations ambassadors, as interns often help increase visibility of their host organization on campus and with their peers and family members.
  • Opportunities to promote community involvement and demonstrate your organization’s commitment to workforce development – an excellent public relations tool!

“The energy and fresh perspective the intern brought to our organization brought a sense of renewal and energy for some of the PIC staff members in addition to the remarkable deliverables.”

– Sharon Pesut, Partners in Careers

Nayeli works an event put on by the Clark County Food Bank

By participating in FLP internships, students have the opportunity to:

  • Gain insight into potential career paths and reflect on their career goals.
  • Connect with professionals in a field or organization of interest.
  • Develop social capital and expand their professional networks.
  • Set and accomplish work-related goals.
  • Gain confidence as they develop relevant work experience and transferrable skills.
  • Apply classroom knowledge and training in a professional context.

While recruiting and hiring can sometimes feel like a big undertaking, we are here to help lighten the load.

As the talent recruiting partners, the FLP Team agree to:

  • Recruit from a pool of diverse, talented WSU Vancouver juniors and seniors.
  • Facilitate a pre-screening and matching process to present qualified finalists for the final round of interviews.
  • Convene employer company partners and Future Leaders Interns and provide complementary networking and professional development programming.
  • Conduct a post-internship evaluation with both employer partners and Future Leaders Interns.
  • Publicly represent the partnership between the partners and companies participating in FLP.

“The program gives interns opportunities to network with executive decision makers, which is critical for students to understand what they do and allows them to envision themselves in these roles.”
– Mike Bomar, Port of Vancouver USA

Each company hosting Future Leaders Interns is asked to:

  • Provide an employer paid internship placement of at least 200 hours per Future Leaders Intern to be completed during the summer months.
  • Pay each Future Leaders Intern a minimum of $19 per hour.
  • Provide a point person or intern manager to work with the Future Leaders Project.
  • Provide opportunities for each Future Leaders Intern to receive mentoring from one or more executive team members.
  • Provide meaningful opportunities for the intern to observe and participate in real-world business operations across your organization, including, but not limited to, project work, staff meetings, board/leadership interaction, strategic planning, finance, etc.
  • Submit a position description for each internship position that provides a brief overview of the company and notes position title; primary responsibilities; knowledge, skills, and abilities required to succeed in the role; internship duration; compensation; location and other relevant logistics.
  • Ensure a safe, supportive, and accessible working environment for Future Leaders Interns – one that is free from harassment and discriminatory treatment.
  • Complete a post-internship evaluation and remain engaged with the Future Leaders Project after the completion of internship.
  • Provide current company logo and company/culture description/any relevant statistics for use in recruiting.


Companies who are considering hosting Future Leaders Interns are encouraged to review the Future Leaders Project Employer Guide and consider the timeline below.

Project Timeline

  • October – January: FLP Team actively recruits company partners to host Future Leaders Interns during the upcoming summer.
  • January – March: FLP Team actively recruits prospective Future Leaders Interns.
  • April: Prospective interns complete screening interviews with members of the FLP Team before advancing to final round interviews with company partners.
  • Early May: FLP Team works with company partners to finalize Future Leader Intern placements for summer.
  • Late May – Mid-August: Future Leaders Interns complete a minimum of a 200-hour internship.
  • September: FLP Team hosts an End-of-Summer Celebration to celebrate and recognize Future Leaders Interns and company partners.
If you have questions about the program or would like to be a Future Leaders Project internship host site, please contact Nolan Yaws-Gonzalez, Senior Project Manager with Workforce Southwest Washington, at nyaws-gonzalez@workforcesw.org or 360.567.1066.


WSU Vancouver students interested in the Future Leaders Project should contact Bill Stahley, WSU Vancouver Employer Engagement Coordinator at bstahley@wsu.edu or 360.546.9273.

Past Future Leaders Project host sites

Summer 2020
  • Columbia River Economic Development Council
  • PointNorth Inc.
  • Workforce Southwest Washington
Summer 2021
  • Columbia Bank
  • Columbia River Economic Development Council
  • Edgefi
  • PointNorth Inc.
  • TwinStar Credit Union
  • Workforce Southwest Washington
Summer 2022
  • Bridgeview Resource Center
  • Columbia Bank
  • Columbia River Economic Development Council
  • Greater Portland Inc.
  • High Tech Council
  • Identity Clark County
  • Port of Vancouver USA
  • Workforce Southwest Washington
Summer 2023
  • Clark County Food Bank
  • Columbia River Economic Development Council
  • Edgefi
  • Fourth Plain Forward
  • Greater Portland Inc.
  • Pacific Power Group
  • Partners in Careers
  • Point North Inc.
  • Port of Vancouver USA
  • TwinStar Credit Union
  • Verdant Web Technologies
  • YWCA Clark County
Summer 2024
  • Association of Science Communicators
  • Building Futures Foundation
  • City of Vancouver, Economic Prosperity & Housing Department
  • Clark County Food Bank
  • Columbia River Economic Development Council
  • C-TRAN
  • Edgefi
  • Educational Opportunities for Children and Families
  • Fourth Plain Forward
  • Greater Portland Inc.
  • Greater Vancouver Chamber
  • Hello Life Eating Disorder Recovery Services
  • Molecular Testing Labs
  • Nut-Tritious Foods
  • Partners in Careers
  • PointNorth Inc.
  • Port of Vancouver USA
  • Southwest Washington Contractors Association
  • United Grain

The Future Leaders Project is supported by PY23 allocations of $97,195 (51% of total) U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration federal funding and $93,000 (49% of total) non-federal funding from the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation.

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