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Stevenson Center and City Year celebrate five-year partnership

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The Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development and City Year are celebrating the five-year anniversary of their partnership.

City Year is an AmeriCorps program that actively bridges the gaps in high-need schools by developing students’ academic and social-emotional skills and helping improve schools’ culture and climate. City Year delivers an impressive double bottom line: better outcomes for students in areas of concentrated poverty and City Year alumni equipped to be leaders in their communities.

The Stevenson Center welcomes City Year alumni and staff as Applied Community and Economic Development (ACED) Fellows. Fellows pursue master’s degrees in applied economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, or kinesiology and recreation with an emphasis on community and economic development.  The first year of the program is devoted to on-campus interdisciplinary courses, while Fellows apply their knowledge through an 11-month paid professional internship in the second year.

“I am grateful to have been a part of an organization that strives to empower and support youth while building a culture of positivity in schools that face significant socioeconomic setbacks.”—Orsolya Ficsor

Orsolya Ficsor is a new ACED Fellow in anthropology. Ficsor served with City Year Dallas, which she describes as “one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences of my life so far.”

“I am grateful to have been a part of an organization that strives to empower and support youth while building a culture of positivity in schools that face significant socioeconomic setbacks,” she said.

She described her students’ amazing and talented young minds. Her work with them reminds her never to give up on the ideal vision of an equitable world, which City Year actively seeks. City Year welcomes applications from Illinois State seniors interested in joining the corps after graduation.

“My affiliation with the Stevenson Center has allowed me to revisit which vulnerable populations are more in line with my career interests while having the opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives.”—Derek Ruszkowski

Derek Ruszkowski, who is a second-year ACED Fellow in sociology, spent a year in Kansas City with City Year. Ruszkowski stated, “My affiliation with the Stevenson Center has allowed me to revisit which vulnerable populations are more in line with my career interests while having the opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives, much like my City Year experience allowed for me to do as well.”

Ruszkowski found that City Year gave him a unique opportunity to listen carefully to the voices of the next generation.

“My City Year experience was more than a necessary step in understanding what populations I wanted to work with for the remainder of my career trajectory,” he said. “It resulted in the development of a set of values deriving from the City Year culture.”

Through his experiences as an ACED Fellow, Ruszkowski is “learning from those who have spent more time reflecting on how the world could be better.” He seeks to uphold those values he learned in City Year and to “help build the necessary bridges to make those reflections a reality.”

Second-year ACED Fellow Jerome Sader is in the applied economics degree program. Sader served with City Year Chicago, and he is now back in Chicago completing his professional practice with Housing Action Illinois. As a member of the policy advocacy team, Sader meets with government agencies and funders, tracks success stories, generates media, and organizes public education activities.

Kate Hake, the Stevenson Center’s program coordinator, served with City Year in Los Angeles. Interested in the ACED Fellows Program? Contact us at StevensonCenter@IllinoisState.edu or at (309)-438-7090.

Megan Birk is the Stevenson Center’s public relations intern. 

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