Scholarships Available to Interns

Scholarships Available to Interns in Senator Merkley’s Offices

Senator Merkley offers two types of a limited number of scholarships to enable individuals to gain experience working with a Senate office who could not otherwise afford to do so. These scholarships are available for full and part time interns working in Washington, D.C., Oregon, and remotely.

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.

The Otto and Verdell Rutherford Congressional Intern Scholarship

The internship is named in honor of Otto and Verdell Rutherford, prominent civil rights leaders in Oregon during the 20th century. Individuals selected for this scholarship should be interested in combating inequality, and advancing social and economic justice. Up to four O&V scholarship positions will be offered to interns in the D.C. office each year. O&V interns have a policy focus on civil rights issues, but otherwise receive the same internship experience.

About the Rutherfords: Upon their marriage in 1936, Otto and Verdell Rutherford 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’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.

Scholarship Details

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

Full-time scholarship interns receive approximately $6,000 pre-tax for a full-time (40 hours/week) commitment lasting a minimum of 10 weeks. Part-time 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.

Applying for a Scholarship

Any candidate is welcome to apply during the internship application process. Candidates should complete the internship application for Senator Merkley’s office on his website. Scholarship applicants will be asked to answer additional prompts about funding, why they seek a scholarship and how they would benefit from receiving one. Interns applying for the Otto & Verdell Rutherford Scholarship will be asked to answer in 100-200 words why they are passionate about civil rights, social justice, and/or economic justice and how they hope to advance these issues in Senator Merkley’s office and/or in the future.

Your scholarship application will be considered by the office during the overall internship review and selection process.

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 18th

Winter term: December 6th

Spring term: January 15th

Summer term: March 19th

The deadline to apply for a scholarship internship is the same as the internship deadline. If you have questions about interning in Senator Merkley’s office please contact Hayes Ingraham, Senator Merkley’s Correspondence Manager and Intern Supervisor, at

You may reach the Intern Coordinator at (202) 224-3753 if you have any additional questions.