Institute of Politics (Harvard Votes Challenge & New Frontier Awards)

Institute of Politics

Harvard Votes Challenge & New Frontier Awards

LOCATION: Cambridge, MA

INDUSTRY: Education

Our office is able to host a REMOTE OR IN-PERSON intern (depending on mutual preference).

ABOUT US: The Institute of Politics (IOP) is recruiting a Harvard College summer intern to support two of its signature projects: The Harvard Votes Challenge (HVC) and the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards.

Harvard Votes Challenge (HVC)
The Harvard Votes Challenge (HVC) is a non-partisan, University-wide initiative to reach 100% voter registration, engagement, and turnout across Harvard University and beyond. We work to create a culture of full participation through a combination of creative organizing and institutional leadership and commitments. The effort, housed at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics and Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, is a true partnership among students, staff, and faculty. To create a campus movement, we have built voting teams across all 12 degree-granting schools and within major university offices. The HVC Central team provides training, toolkits, and coaching to support these teams.

In an effort to build youth participation beyond Harvard, we have co-founded a local higher education voting network- Boston Votes, the Ivy League Voting Challenge, and a high school voting program. Due to these efforts and a massive national movement to increase youth turnout, our eligible student voter participation moved from 22.4% in 2014 to 48.6% in 2018 and we expect to see similar gains after the 2020 US elections cycle. Our goal is to build upon these efforts and achieve 100% student voter participation in all elections.

The New Frontier Awards
The Institute of Politics and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards to honor young Americans who are changing their communities – and the country – with their commitment to public service. The New Frontier Awards are presented annually to exceptional young Americans under the age of 40 whose contributions in elective office, community service or advocacy demonstrate the impact and value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.

The award honors an elected official whose work demonstrates the impact of elective public service as a way to address public challenges. This award is known as the Fenn Award, which has been presented annually to young elected officials in honor of Dan Fenn, the Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum's first director and a member of President Kennedy's staff.

The recipients of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards demonstrate the qualities President Kennedy embodied and admired: civic mindedness, pragmatism, vision and tenacity in identifying and addressing public challenges. Previous recipients of this award include Cory Booker, Stacey Abrams, and Pete Buttigieg, and they’ve all noted how instrumental receiving this award has been in propelling them to the national platform, so this award has potential for real, lasting impact. The work that New Frontier Award (NFA) Research Assistants will take on will be conducting detailed research on the history and successes of the candidates so that the selection committee will have a deep understanding of each one and make the most informed and best decision for the 2021 recipient.


Harvard Votes Challenge Responsibilities

  • Resource Development: Designing materials, training, and programming for voter registration integration into first-year and upperclassmen orientation. Building playbooks and call to action materials for administrators, students, faculty, offices, and our graduate school voting teams. Working closely with undergraduate House staff, graduate school voting teams, and offices to support the development of action plans.
  • Communications: Working with IOP Communications Director and HVC student team to build and execute a content calendar. Supporting the development of social media, website content, press releases, and article pitches.
  • External Engagement: Leveraging online platforms and national audiences to share our work (trainings, lessons learned, materials) with the higher education community. Providing support to our local higher education and Ivy League network — recruiting new partners, developing communications, and building call to action content.

New Frontier Awards Responsibilities

  • Identify and compile information about prospective candidates for the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards through a combination of internet, news monitoring, social media, and telephone research.
  • Develop narrative biographies of 8-12 nominees for the New Frontier Awards.
  • Generate and execute strategies for identifying prospective New Frontier Award candidates for upcoming selection cycles.


  • Social Media Management & Marketing

REMOTE WORK ENVIRONMENT: Intern will check in periodically via Zoom but work is flexible.


WORKING HOURS: There is flexibility regarding which hours the intern works.


  • Access to high-speed Wi-Fi

  • Personal laptop
  • Smart Phone
  • Web Camera
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel)

2020 Intern Reflection

I have learned so many valuable skills through my internship with the Harvard Votes Challenge and Institute of Politics. I was energized and excited to continue working with the Harvard Votes Challenge this summer, as I am a member of the organization, so it’s been great to dive deeper into topics and goals that weren’t focused on during this past school year. My internship with HVC is engaging, interesting, and fast-paced. Whether I’m creating graphics on Canva for HVC’s social media, researching changing election laws and stipulations, connecting with student organizers at different degree-granting schools, or developing tools that can be used in the fall, I am always excited to continue to support the Harvard Votes Challenge’s goal of 100% voter engagement at the University.

Students who are interested in civic engagement and the procedures connected with voting at local and federal levels should apply for this internship! Being involved with HVC during the school year was definitely beneficial for me as I started my internship, as I was familiar with members of the HVC team and HVC’s goal. The Harvard Votes Challenge team at the College and at the Kennedy School are incredible — everyone is passionate about this cause, which makes the work environment positive, friendly, and task-oriented.

-Megan Ter Haar '23

Boston, MA / Cambridge, MA