Carolyn Mielke ’23

Housing Options & Planning Enterprises, Inc., Oxon Hill, MD

This summer I did a remote internship with a nonprofit based out of Maryland called Housing Options & Planning Enterprises (H.O.P.E.), a HUD-approved counseling agency that provides its community with financial literacy, pre-purchase and foreclosure intervention programs. H.O.P.E.’s staff provides comprehensive housing counseling and home-buying seminars to help individuals and families find housing that meets their personal and financial needs and works with their clients to ensure that they remain in a safe and sustainable home. As a proud member of the Oxon Hill community, H.O.P.E. is committed to combating the racial and socio-economic inequality that has plagued the housing and banking industries for decades. They believe that knowledge is power and aim to educate BIPOC and low- to moderate-income renters and buyers so that they are empowered to shape their own financial futures.

As a grant writing and research intern, I worked with Shawna Nelms on completing a number of applications to help H.O.P.E. expand the impact of their work. In late July, Shawna and I worked on an application for a grant from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) that would allow H.O.P.E. to address distressing housing conditions and implement a facade and home improvement program for aging houses in Baltimore City. This project would support 10 families in the improvement of their homes, as well as fund financial education and housing counseling for an additional 200 clients. Working on this project, and with H.O.P.E. in general, required that I familiarize myself with a number of reports written by the State of Maryland Housing Departments, as well as other Baltimore City agencies. These reports were extensive and filled with unfamiliar jargon, and it was very difficult for me to make any sense of them at the beginning of my internship.

This internship helped me understand what it is like to work in the nonprofit world and to devote one’s career to service. Everyone I met at H.O.P.E. works incredibly hard to serve people who may have been forgotten or excluded, and to help them attain a home where they can raise their family, retire or simply enjoy life. After this summer, I think that the nonprofit world is more accessible to me, and I have a better idea of how to market my skills as a researcher and grant writer. I also feel more encouraged to continue growing as a writer, because I now understand how vital a skill it is for almost any position in the professional world. The work I have done and the skills I have honed would not have been possible without the support from the ’68 Center, and I feel extremely fortunate for this opportunity close to my home and family.