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Stevenson Center partners with new host organization

people at water recovery plant

ACED Fellow Eliud Uresti (right) on a tour with colleagues at the Clearas Water Recovery Plant in Missoula, Montana.

Missoula Economic Partnership is new among the diverse organizations hosting Stevenson Center graduate students. Applied Community and Economic Development (ACED) Fellow Eliud Uresti is completing his professional practice there as part of his master’s degree in political science.

Prior to attending Illinois State, Uresti served two 10-month terms with AmeriCorps in Texas. He was a college advisor for high school students and then an early childhood literacy tutor.

“During both of my terms, I served at schools located in low-income areas. Many of the hardships students encountered with school work were not due to inadequate instruction or intellectual capacities, but rather to environmental factors such as proper healthcare, poverty, or unstable home situations,” Uresti said.

“This was our first year participating in the [Stevenson Center] program, and it has been a huge help to have Eliud here.”

Uresti chose to pursue graduate studies at Illinois State to build on his newly developed, enlightened view of how social issues are intricately intertwined. The ACED Fellows Program at the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development enhances the skills of experienced students working to become the new generation of development specialists.

Fellows complete one calendar year of full-time coursework followed by 11 months of hands-on professional practice with communities or organizations needing the skills and expertise these students possess.

Uresti is completing his professional practice at Missoula Economic Partnership (MEP), which has never before hosted a Stevenson Center Fellow. According to its website, MEP is a non-profit public-private partnership that “works to foster business diversity, sustainability, and job development across industries in the Missoula area.”

Uresti is working on a survey to evaluate the strengths and challenges of the existing economic ecosystem in Missoula. He will use data from interviews to develop the survey and then collect responses from local businesses. The ultimate goal is to support the creation of MEP’s five-year business retention and expansion strategic plan.

Eliud Uresti speaking with the Seeley Lake Resource Team.

ACED Fellow in political science Eliud Uresti speaking with the Seeley Lake Resource Team.

Jenn Ewan is the vice president of MEP and Uresti’s direct supervisor. In a recent evaluation of his work Ewan commented: “This was our first year participating in the [Stevenson Center] program, and it has been a huge help to have Eliud here.” She goes on to say that this experience has been a learning one for Uresti as well, and that the staff appreciates the professionalism and dedication he brings to his work.

“Being able to successfully perform in a variety of different types of systematic structures, and with different types of people within those structures, is what I value most from being a part of groups like the Stevenson Center ACED program and AmeriCorps,” Uresti said.

Meaningful professional practice experiences through host organizations like MEP draw students to the Stevenson Center’s Fellows Programs.  Other current host organizations include:

  • City of Bloomington (IL)
  • Community Development Commission of Mendocino County (CA)
  • Credit Builders Alliance (Washington, DC)
  • Center for Financial Services Innovation (Washington, DC)
  • Dakota Resource Council
  • East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging
  • Housing Action Illinois
  • Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (WI)
  • Invest Aurora (IL)
  • Montana & Idaho Community Development Corporation
  • United Way of McLean County (IL)

Interested in learning more about AmeriCorps and the Stevenson Center?

Kaitlin Pavsner is the Stevenson Center’s public relations intern.