The Borgen Project: Helping the World’s Poor From Bed

Changemaker Catalyst Award recipient, Rory Davis spent the summer in an internship with the Borgen Project as a contributing journalist. Rory is a rising senior (Class of 2021) studying history.

Me watching the classic schoolhouse rock “I’m Just a Bill” to review the legislative process.

Just when I thought COVID-19 meant another summer working an hourly job and leaving my career aspirations for Fall, Winter, and Spring, I got an interview with the Borgen Project! 

Haven’t heard of it? Well to clue you in, the Borgen Project is a US non-profit which aims to redirect the existing US International Affairs budget away from foreign military assistance and towards reciprocal investing in world poverty and hunger instead. The organization began after Clint Borgen, hence the name, spent time responding to the Kosovo genocide in Yugoslavia and felt American aid dollars were centered on cheap fixes and did little to help break the poverty cycle.

 A Snapchat telling all my friends that working with Borgen is an internship you can do in bed!


For years, Clint has developed The Borgen Project around a belief in America’s ability to implement innovative poverty aid which gives the world’s poor the freedom to help themselves and begin interacting with US markets, simultaneously growing the American economy while decreasing world poverty.

When applying for the Taylor Center’s Changemaker Catalyst Award, I hoped to be able to undertake an unpaid internship in order to understand the advantages of large grass-roots NGOs like the Borgen Project. And certainly, I had the opportunity to examine a dynamic organization with multiple strategies in its campaign for social change. 

For starters, The Borgen Project is almost 100% remote –yes, pre-pandemic! Their system keeps overhead costs down, allowing any funds to go straight to lobbying and advocacy efforts. For me, the lack of face-to-face interaction was at times boring, but I did get to create my own schedule and improve self-management skills.

Besides a unique office organization, the Project used lots of tools to raise awareness for poverty-reducing legislation. Some were less successful, such as twitter-advocacy (being that Twitter is already a very political space). However, the Project also grew to use TikTok while I volunteered with them. Though atypical media, it worked very well for sharing tips on how to be an advocate for the world’s poor. We even used some old-school methods such as snail-mail (which I’m now glad I supported during my internship since its very existence is being threatened!)

 Part of my internship was contacting leaders.


At Borgen, I got my first experience with real-world journalism. This process included pitching articles, collecting interviews, and framing pieces for a donor audience. By the end of my internship, I had mastered this process and developed a powerful voice for human rights and poverty advocacy that reaches powerful figures in the effort to alleviate extreme hardship. Honestly, it was challenging to keep the articles bipartisan, but I wanted to keep with the Project’s goal of getting support across all aisles. 

Probably the most exciting component was lobbying one of my leaders. The Project had extensive guides on how to do this, and I ended up calling Congressman Andy Harris to chat about the Global Health Security Act. When lobbying, you have to know the budget and summary of your bill. Additionally, you have to be able to sell the bill’s pros to someone who may have very different priorities. I hope to do this process multiple times throughout my life as it was exciting and impactful. 

 Me on the phone lobbying Congressman Andy Harris about the Global Health Security Act.


And, as I was excited to hear and hopefully you are too, I was invited to continue with the Borgen Project as a remote Regional Director. This position will allow me to get more leadership experience in the organization as responsibilities include coordinating fundraising, advocacy, and volunteering efforts in my area. 

If you’re interested in the Borgen Project check out their remote internships here:

And while you’re at it check out one of my articles:

 My first published article!