Monumental Milestones

From an inaugural group of 51 students in 1975 to a powerhouse program of more than 550 virtual participants in the summer of 2020, TWC has come a long way. Here are some of the highlights from our first 45 years.



The Washington Center for Learning Alternatives is founded by William M. “Bill” Burke and Sheila McRevey. A staff of four recruits 51 students from 35 colleges for internships that fall.


TWC receives its first major grant courtesy of the Exxon Education Foundation.


TWC launches its first academic seminar with a three-week symposium called “Politics: Domestic and International Affairs.”


Student housing is expanded to contribute to living and learning in Washington, D.C.



Grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Minority Scholarship Fund, MacArthur Foundation, and National Scholarship Fund create significant financial aid opportunities.


Academic seminars become core programming with the launch of the Women as Leaders Academic Seminar and the first National Convention Seminars at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.


First Inside Washington Presidential Inauguration seminar is launched, serving more than 500 students.


The Washington Center for Learning Alternatives is renamed The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.


The International Business School of Sweden begins an internship program in collaboration with TWC.


The Minority Leaders Fellowship Program is established through funding from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Henry Luce Foundation, Fannie Mae Foundation, Coca Cola Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Foundation.



A national TWC alumni network is established.


TWC partners with the Environmental Protection Agency to launch the Environmental Internship Program, offering substantial funding for internships at the agency.


The Ford Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and AT&T establish the Minority Internships in Congress Program (later renamed the Diversity in Congress Program).


TWC partners with the Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly to establish the Córdova y Fernós Congressional Internship Program for Puerto Rican students.

TWC expands its international program, enabling students from Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and other countries to participate in internship programming.


The NAFTA Leaders Program is established for students of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

TWC organizes a state initiative fund to develop scholarships for students from participating states. By the end of the decade, TWC will establish partnerships with Florida, Maryland, Massachusett, Ohio, and West Virginia.


State governors of Mexico partner with TWC to establish the Governors Internship Program, designed to encourage students from Mexico to participate in TWC experiences.



Over 75 college presidents support funding for 125 students to attend the National Convention Seminars.


TWC receives Department of State designation as a J1 visa sponsor.

TWC expands its partnership with federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, and Department of Labor, to provide additional funding for internships.


Founder Bill Burke passes away. Michael B. Smith becomes president.

TWC launches the Students with Disabilities Program through funding from the Department of Labor.

TWC enrollment surpasses 1,300 students.


TWC celebrates its 30th anniversary.


TWC offices move to the current headquarters at 1333 16th Street NW, in Washington, D.C. Goldman Sachs and other generous funders made this move possible.


Construction begins at the Michael B. Smith Residential and Academic (RAF) in the quickly growing NoMa neighborhood of Washington. Sam Rose provides substantial financial backing of the building and would later establish the Sam Rose Scholarship, which has been distributed to hundreds of students.



The RAF is completed and opened.


The President’s Lecture Series becomes the Alan K. Simpson – Norman Y. Mineta Leaders Series. It focuses on civil discourse, features speakers with track records of successful leadership, and showcases a diversity of experiences and ideas.


The Mexico100 program is launched. Over the next two years, it will bring 220 students from public institutions in Mexico to Washington.

A U.S.-Japan Council partnership establishes Building the TOMODACHI Generation, a two-week program for Japanese students interested in leadership, cross-cultural exchange, and entrepreneurial approaches to social challenges.


TWC is awarded the administration of the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship Program by the State Department.

The Ford Motor Company launches the John Dingell Fellows Program in support of Michigan students.


TWC names Christopher Norton as president.


With support from Prudential Financial, TWC launches the Veterans Employment Trajectory Initiative to assist veterans with their transition to the civilian working world.

TWC is awarded the administration of the Foreign Affairs IT Fellowship Program by the State Department.



TWC celebrates its 45th Anniversary on Feb. 28.

Over the summer, TWC launches the largest virtual academic internship program in the country with more than 550 students participating.