In 2016, Eli Stacy moved to Ohio as part of the Cleveland Foundation’s Public Service Fellowship Program. Born, raised and educated in Virginia, he planned to stay until the year-long learning experience was complete and then return home.
Four years later, Stacy is a Cleveland homeowner and the newly appointed program coordinator at Cleveland Transformation Alliance. “I love this place, it pulled me in,” Stacy says of his experience completing his Master’s degree in Public Administration from Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. He was simultaneously working and building relationships in a variety of Cleveland neighborhoods and the civic community.
Most recently, Stacy served in the City of Cleveland finance department, a role that strengthened his leadership skills and reaffirmed his passion for being out in the community, working directly with residents and community partners. Prior roles as a grant program coordinator with Cuyahoga Metropolitan Authority’s (CMHA) Jobs Plus Program and a Homeownership and Financial Counselor with CHN Housing Partners gave him experience connecting with Cleveland families and developing programs for youth in underserved neighborhoods.
“First, I’m here to listen,” he says of his plans to work with parents and students as an advocate for school choice, knowing that the effects of COVID-19 on public education creates additional obstacles for families. He recalled a situation when a student whose family was part of the Jobs Plus program was at risk of failing as she struggled with online learning deadlines. Once the school established lines of communication and clear expectations, she was able to get back on track. Sometimes challenges can be overcome just by asking families what they need.
Stacy sees this as part of his new role, being an advocate for parents and “ensuring that their voices are being heard” by community leaders and elected officials. He has already started reaching out to re-establish connections with his colleagues at CMHA and CHN to strengthen those partnerships on behalf of the Cleveland Transformation Alliance.
According to Stacy, consistent, ongoing connections and follow-up are a key indicator of positive outcomes for the communities that he has served in the past. “There are “good people who really care and want the best for their youth in every neighborhood,” says Stacy. He knows that a sense of hopelessness can also be a barrier to education access, something he hopes to counteract by ensuring that families can easily access all the support and resources available to them — particularly for students who receive IEP services.
After working indirectly with CMSD students and families through CHN and CMHA, Stacy recognizes the interconnectedness of housing, employment, and educational success, and he is eager to apply that practical experience to shape the programs and services offered by Cleveland Transformation Alliance.