ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- Recent budget cuts have left some programs and organizations throughout the Army with less funding. However, despite this short-fall, students and recent graduates from colleges across the United States are gaining real world experience through the Minority College Relations Program.

According to Jerry De La Cruz, deputy chief of staff for Resource Management and Army Sustainment Command MCRP senior advisor, recent funding constraints have required ASC to find a different way to manage the program without a full-time program coordinator. The MCRP coordinator served as the team's synchronizer and Contractor Officer Representative for the program. But that hasn't slowed them down.

"The Minority College Relations Program has been a self-sufficient 'all volunteer program'," said De La Cruz. "It is supported primarily by volunteer leadership and volunteer employees to help with the planning, coordinating, and execution of the program."

The program relies on volunteers, who provide the necessary planning and coordinating to put together the student requirements and support for the students.

The program mission is to develop collaborative programs within ASC, Joint Munitions Command, Army Contracting Command-Rock Island, and Rock Island Arsenal Garrison. This will allow minority institutions to participate in federal programs and thus enhance the command's future readiness through these partnerships.

"The success of this self-directed program is a result of doing things smarter and leaner with teammates that are selfless and truly dedicated towards diversifying Arsenal Island," said De La Cruz.

According to MCRP volunteers, since 1996 the program has prepared over 250 students for future career success by offering valuable work experience and gaining invaluable expertise in addressing and solving significant mission-related issues.

There are currently 10 participants in MCRP's spring 2012 internship program here. The 15-week program runs from January through May and focuses on getting students integrated into the federal work place and shows them many different ways to serve the nation, aside from military service.

This semester's interns include: Brodrick Mixon, Alabama A&M University, MBA; Kerrigan Ambers, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, studying marketing; Aldo Renteria, University of Texas El Paso, studying finance and international business; Chris Baker, New Mexico State University, studying information engineering technology; Cesar Quinones, University of Texas El Paso, studying accounting; Matthew Cardiel, New Mexico State University, studying mechanical engineering; Tramaine Richardson, Jackson State University, studying business management; Brittnee Keller, Prarie View A&M University, studying civil engineering and computer science; Dominique Dawson, Alabama A&M University, studying finance; and Erica Yarbrough, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, studying business marketing.