People

PLAS Feature: Matthew Rappaport (Fels '16) at the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity

March 31, 2016

The Public Leadership and Service Fellowships (PLAS) are a means of providing students with funding to pursue work at non-profit organizations and government agencies around the world. Open to all full-time students, the fellowship guarantees each individual a $5,000 stipend for ten weeks of work, either domestically or abroad.

What is your current role in the Mayor's Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity?

I am a policy intern and I primarily do best practices and methodology research as well as some data gathering and analysis for projects related to benefits access. For example, I am putting together a policy brief on the methodology that Food and Nutrition Services uses to study SNAP application churn – a concept that describes the reapplication of eligible persons for programs to which they should never have been disqualified. With this report we are hoping to work with the PA Department of Human Services to conduct a local analysis on churn, which stands to save the City much administrative and financial waste. Additionally, I wear many hats, and often find myself facilitating roundtable discussions, taking minutes at meetings, attending policy forums, and performing various other tasks.

How has PLAS helped you to get this role?

PLAS was a significant determinant of the feasibility of this position for me. Not only I had nearly exhausted my work-study funding, but the PLAS funding likely exceeded what I would have made this semester, given my capricious schedule.

What do you like best about your job?

I perform meaningful work that contributes directly to the Office's endeavors. I also have a lot of autonomy and am given the freedom to suggest projects. It follows that the exposure to different issues and challenges has been great – the tasks I am working on at the beginning of any given week have usually taken an interesting turn by the end of the week.

What do you recommend incoming students to do to make the most of PLAS?

Find a position that you would otherwise be unable to pursue. Or, given your work-study situation, use these funding sources strategically so that you can continue to have a reliable stream of income.

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829

felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu