Since completing her marketing internship with the Romeo Downtown Development Authority last year, Madison Roush has been hired as the DDA’s Administration and Events Coordinator. Madison, left, is pictured with the DDA’s Executive Director Elizabeth Miller.

Following the success of its inaugural year, Four County Community Foundation’s Return to Earn internship program is making plans to once again help local businesses and students connect in 2023. This talent retention initiative seeks to provide quality, paid summer internships for college students in or near their hometowns. It gives college students the chance to both build their resume and earn a paycheck during their summer break while also creating potential avenues for participants to return to those communities after completing their college or university studies and find a job in their field.

The foundation seeks to support both interns and participating businesses by helping cover up to 50 percent of the interns’ salary.

“I’ve seldom been involved in such a fulfilling project as Four County’s Return to Earn internship initiative. Bringing our talented youth ‘back home’ for advancement in their chosen career field is a win for the student, a win for the employer, and hopefully a long-term win for the local economy!” said Kathy Dickens, the foundation’s executive director.

In 2022, ten college students took part in the program, working mainly in agriculture, municipal governments and STEM-related fields at sites in Imlay City, Almont, Armada, Romeo, Rochester Hills and Lapeer. In addition to their work-related duties, the students took part in virtual cohort meetings with Dickens to discuss everything from networking to crafting cover letters and resumes.

After students logged eight weeks in the program, all provided feedback about Return to Earn. They overwhelmingly said that the chance to learn experientially was the highlight of the internship program. It helped some participants inform their future career plans, develop important organizational and interpersonal skills and gave them the chance to demonstrate leadership in the work environment.

Participating host sites also reflected on the program, noting that having a Return to Earn intern resulted in several benefits. They appreciated the fresh perspective that students brought and the initiative they exhibited to learn more about the job and profession. Several expressed gratitude for the additional capacity the intern provided, which enabled the organization to complete important projects. In some instances, the host sites reported that the interns’ knowledge and expertise helped them save significant costs for a task they would have otherwise outsourced.

For more information about the Return to Earn internship program, including those students and businesses interested in participating in the 2023 session, contact Kathy Dickens at (810) 798-0909 or

Four County Community Foundation is committed to serving the current and emerging needs of our local community and is dedicated to bringing together human and financial resources to support progressive ideas in education, health, community, youth and adult programs. The foundation serves portions of Lapeer, St. Clair, Macomb and Oakland counties. To learn more about Four County Community Foundation, visit