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Economic Development Fellows

What is the Economic Development Fellows Program?

The Economic Development Fellows Program (ED) is a two-year fellowship opportunity that combines work in a community-based organization with graduate level study at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Individuals with a strong interest in economic development issues will find this program to be excellent in both practical and theoretical training.

The ED Fellows Program, funded through a generous grant from the Helen Bader Foundation, is an initiative of the UWM Consortium for Economic Opportunity (CEO). One core objective of the CEO is to assist local nonprofit organizations in achieving their neighborhood economic development goals. Accordingly, Fellows are assigned to a participating community organization where they work side-by-side with agency leaders and staff in achieving their economic development objectives. To date, nine individuals have been recipients of ED fellowships. Each year two to three new ED Fellows are selected in a competitive process.

During their fellowships, the students pursue studies in economic development-related fields while providing local organizations with much needed staff expertise on various initiatives. In the neighborhoods of Milwaukee's central city, there is a clear need for sustained economic development assistance, and ED Fellows can play a major role -during their graduate careers as well as after-in enhancing community economic development capacity in Milwaukee.

The Benefits of Study at UWM?

As Wisconsin's premier urban university, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee offers its graduate students a number of clear advantages:

  • UWM has been identified as one of the top research institutions in the country, ranking in the top 3.5% of more than 3,600 national universities.
  • The UWM faculty is comprised of nationally renowned academic leaders.
  • UWM is one of only three schools in Wisconsin that offers Ph.D. programs.

UWM's superb graduate programs provide a perfect setting for ED Fellows to receive a solid academic grounding as action-oriented, economic development leaders. UWM's nationally recognized graduate programs in Urban Studies (ranked 6th in the country in the most recent professional evaluations), Geography, History, and Business Administration have all housed Fellows through the first three years of the ED program. UWM also houses the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management, which offers graduate students the opportunity to earn a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management alongside their chosen Master's degree.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

Only individuals who have completed or are near completion of their service in one of the following service organizations may apply:

  • Peace Corps,
  • Americorps,
  • Public Allies

What are the Program Benefits?

Each ED Fellow receives:

  • Full tuition remission
  • Paid stipend for work in the community organization
  • Health insurance
  • Annual book allowance

What Graduate Programs are Offered?

Examples of ED Fellows work in the community

The Fellows have worked on issues such as reindustrializing the Menomonee Valley, reviving declining neighborhood commercial strips, improving neighborhood services (including housing), running a summer youth internship program, and building a comprehensive business assistance program in one of Milwaukee's most distressed (and strategic) inner city neighborhoods.

Fellows accomplishments

A sampling of Fellows' accomplishments includes:

  • leveraging more than $500,000 in private and public financial support for their organizations;
  • drafting the successful application for "Main Street" designation for National Avenue (designation awarded, 2005, ED alum will serve as full-time program coordinator);
  • coordinating City Youth Internship Program, which will place 250 Milwaukee youth in various city of Milwaukee departments this summer;
  • managing three Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program sites in 2004 and 2005 including volunteer recruitment;
  • coordinating economic development for the Lincoln Avenue Revitalization District, three new businesses opened since 2002, completed façade renovation, and street beautification projects;
  • developing a business resource center for North Avenue;
  • establishing a public computer lab in a low-income neighborhood;
  • creating and maintaining an information clearinghouse on sustainability indicators for Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley
  • created City of Milwaukee's Summer Youth Internship Program. During her fellowship, the ED Fellow hired nearly 400 summer interns. Her success led to the establishment of a new City government workforce initiative
  • provided one-on-one counseling for prospective minority franchise owners
  • provided key assistance in the development of the Harambee Great Neighborhood Plan which resulted in the award of a $1.7 million community development grant from Thrivent Financial
  • produced report "Economic Impact of the City of Milwaukee Housing Authority" which shows the housing burden faced by central city residents
  • carried out Utility Allowance Study of 400 public housing scattered sites, which led to recalculation of monthly utility allowances for public housing residents
  • completed Utility Study showing savings based on “green” construction methods in public housing
  • investigated neighborhood and housing stock conditions, incorporating GIS research
  • identified the neighborhood assets in North Harambee neighbhorhood resulting in data base of 175 organizations and 117 private businesses
  • developed mural project depicting history and culture of an inner-city neighborhood
  • identified of vacant properties (through GIS) of local neighborhood in order to identify opportunities for economic development and housing
  • facilitated neighborhood focus groups to work on neighborhood planning
  • contributed to the City of Milwaukee's Economic Development Policy Plan by developing policy approaches for career development programming for youth
  • created demographic profile and reviewed best practices for land use and workforce development for the 30th Street Industrial Corridor

How to Apply?

Step One:

Apply for admission to one of the graduate programs included in the ED Program. For application forms and admissions information, visit the UW-Milwaukee Graduate School website:

Step Two:

A separate application is required to the ED Program. Either...

  1. Download the application form (Word, pdf 101kb) from our web site, fillout and send to Lisa Heuler Williams (see address below); or
  2. Contact Lisa Heuler Williams, ED Fellows Program Coordinator, to receive an application in the mail.


  • For Fall admissions, the deadline to apply is March 15th.

Contact Information:

Lisa Heuler Williams
ED Fellows Program Coordinator
Consortium for Economic Opportunity
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201
Phone: 414-229-6155


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Last Updated: February 22, 2016

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