Scholarships Available to Interns

Scholarships Available to Interns in Senator Merkley’s Offices

Senator Merkley offers a limited number of Otto and Verdell Rutherford Scholarships and We the People Scholarships to enable current and recent students to gain experience in his Washington, D.C., and Portland offices through a congressional internship. These scholarships are available for those who could not otherwise afford the educational opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C., or Portland.

Scholarship Details

Scholarships are available for full-time or part-time internships in D.C., or a part-time internship in Portland. Scholarship positions last between 10 and 14 weeks during the fall, winter/spring, and summer terms. 

Full-time D.C. scholarship interns receive approximately $6,000 pre-tax for a full-time (40 hours/week) commitment lasting a minimum of 10 weeks. Part-time D.C. scholarship interns receive roughly $3,750 pre-tax for a part-time (minimum 25 hours/week) internship lasting a minimum of 10 weeks. There may be a travel subsidy for those relocating to Washington, D.C. Portland scholarship recipients receive around $2,250 pre-tax for a part-time (15 hours/week) commitment lasting a minimum of 10 weeks.

The Otto and Verdell Rutherford Congressional Intern Scholarship*

For individuals dedicated to addressing inequality, the Otto and Verdell Rutherford Congressional Intern Scholarship is a specific internship opportunity focused on advancing social and economic justice. Up to four O&V scholarship positions will be offered to full-time interns in the D.C. office. O&V interns have a policy focus on civil rights issues, but are otherwise part of the traditional intern cohort and receive the same internship experience.

The ‘We the People’ Congressional Intern Scholarship

This scholarship is open to individuals seeking financial support who otherwise would not be able to afford the opportunity to intern part or full time in the Washington, DC or Portland office. We the People scholarship recipients will be a part of the traditional intern cohort and receive the same internship experience as non-scholarship positions.

Applying for a Scholarship

To apply, candidates should complete the internship application for Senator Merkley’s office on his website; indicate interest in applying for one or both of the scholarships; and submit the additional essay questions as applicable, which are listed below. If selected for this paid internship, a successful applicant must meet one of the citizenship and/or residency requirements set forth in Pub. L. 115-141 § 704 (2018).

Deadlines to apply:

Fall term: August 15

Winter/Spring term: January 15

Summer term: March 30

If you have questions about interning in Washington, D.C., please contact Hayes Ingraham, Senator Merkley’s Correspondence Manager and Intern Supervisor, at To ask questions about interning in Oregon, please contact Senator Merkley’s State Operations Director at

* The internship is named in honor of Otto and Verdell Rutherford, prominent civil rights leaders in Oregon during the 20th century. Upon their marriage in 1936, Otto and Verdell began a life of activism, rooted in a love of community and respect for hard work and education. Together, they laid the groundwork to promote social change. The Rutherfords’ hard-fought efforts were particularly key to the successful 1953 passage of Oregon’s Public Accommodations Act, a bill that ended racial discrimination in places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, hotels, hospitals and amusement parks. This landmark legislation, which was carried by then Oregon House member Mark Hatfield, was passed under Otto Rutherford’s leadership as president of the Portland Branch NAACP and Verdell’s important role as secretary. Moreover, Verdell volunteered her secretarial skills to other organizations, and she saved hundreds of original documents and photographs, which have been donated to Portland State University Library Special Collections Division as the “Verdell Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection.” This unique collection, which is available to the public, provides a rich historical overview of the personal, political and community life of the Rutherfords and African-Americans in Portland over the course of nearly a century.


Additional essay questions to be considered for a scholarship.

Essay #1 (In 600 words or fewer):

What life experiences have shaped who you are today, and what challenges have you overcome in achieving your education and goals? Please explain why you seek a paid internship in Senator Merkley’s office, and how it would better help you meet your education and professional goals.

In Oregon, internships are available year-round to those interested in interning for a minimum of 15 hours a week on a mutually agreeable schedule. Full-time internships are not offered in the state offices.

Otto and Verdell Rutherford Scholarship Essay #2 (500 words or less):

Advancing social and economic justice is a priority for Senator Merkley. How have your community service experiences or your life experiences informed your understanding of social or economic justice?

We the People Scholarship Essay #2 (500 words or less):

Identify one social, economic or political issue that you are passionate about and, in your words, describe why it is important. From your perspective, what ways do you think this issue could be further addressed? What should be done?

You may reach the D.C. Intern Coordinator at (202) 224-3753 and the State Intern Coordinator at (503) 326-3386 if you have any additional questions.

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