In the summer of 2001, Michael Simmons, a 26-year-old electrical engineering major from Spokane, interned at a firm where he was involved with projects that, if realized to their full potential, could benefit millions of people living in water-stressed communities.
Simmons says the experience at Ultropia, a Seattle-based nonprofit founded by Eastern alumni, would not have been possible without support from the Krumble Foundation, which provided a stipend that helped Simmons make ends meet while working on the job.
“The stipend allowed me to work for a good cause,” a grateful Simmons said, adding, “It gave me experience that I would have otherwise never had.”
He is not alone. Since its inception, two years ago, the Krumble Foundation internship stipend has helped 34 students participate in unpaid internships for nonprofits and government organizations — opportunities that align with their career interests but don’t provide income to support their living expenses.
In February 2020, the Krumble Foundation made a $1.35 million gift to fill financial gaps for some of the hardest working students at Eastern. As of spring of this year, the foundation’s support has helped nearly 200 students by providing life-changing scholarships, microgrants and, for would-be interns, game-changing stipends.
Janeli Sanchez, a 21-year-old from Orando, Washington, is passionate about helping others. She graduated from EWU last spring with a bachelor’s in social work and plans to pursue graduate school and become a fully licensed counselor.
While finalizing her bachelor’s degree, Sanchez wanted to intern at Excelsior Wellness, a Spokane-based nonprofit that provides intensive wrap-around services for young people experiencing mental health and behavior challenges. The internship was a perfect fit for her professional plans. It didn’t, however, come with an income to help cover living expenses.
“The stipend really opened the door for me to continue to go to school and do my internship,” said Sanchez, a first-generation college student.
Sanchez says she has always received plenty of love and encouragement from her folks. But the cost of college and associated internships was beyond reach for her family. “I could not have come to college and gotten my degree without scholarships and stipends. I’m beyond thankful that programs like this exist,” Sanchez said.
For Simmons also, the internship support from the Krumble Foundation was vital to his participation in what turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His research into how a specialized form of transducer — a device that converts energy from one form to another — might be useful in reducing water usage in washing machines and was included in Ultropia’s presentation for a unique combination washer/dryer unit at the $100,000 MIT Climate and Energy pitch contest, last spring.
That unique concept earned the Eagle entrepreneurs on Team Ultropia, Amy Jean Swanson, Cody Birkland and Lloyd V. Dees, first place in this prestigious MIT competition and they walked away with some helpful seed money.
“You don’t necessarily think of sound waves for cleaning your clothes or atomizing water or that sort of thing. So, it was a very interesting and different angle,” Simmons said.
In addition, Simmons helped to design and develop a small-scale prototype of an energy-efficient water atomization unit capable of purifying a gallon of water a minute that was portable enough that it could be used in places without a significant electrical grid.
Being involved in projects from the research to development phase was an amazing experience, said Simmons, who added, “Without the [stipend] support I would have had a very different intern experience.”
Learn about the many ways you can help students and change lives by visiting EWU/Give.