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 government agency or community-based organization with graduate level study at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Individuals with an interest in economic development issues will find this program to be valuable in both practical and theoretical training.

The ED Fellows Program is an initiative of the UWM Center for Economic Development (CED). One objective of CED is to assist local government agencies and nonprofit organizations in achieving their economic development goals. Fellows are assigned to a participating agency or organization where they work side-by-side with agency leaders and staff, gaining valuable economic development experience. To date, 30 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 assistance. In the neighborhoods of Milwaukee’s central city, there is a pressing need for sustained economic development assistance, and ED Fellows can play a major role – both during their graduate careers as well as afterwards – in enhancing community economic development capacity in Milwaukee.

The Benefits of Study at UWM?

As Wisconsin’s only public urban research university, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee offers its graduate students a number of advantages:

  • UWM is one of the top research universities in the Midwest.
    • It ranks in the top 3.5% of more than 3,600 national universities.
    • In 2016, UWM earned the highest rating – R1 – for a research institution from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
  • The UWM faculty includes nationally renowned academic leaders.
  • UWM is one of only three universities in Wisconsin that offers Ph.D. programs.

Graduate study at UWM provides an ideal opportunity for Economic Development Fellows to receive a solid academic grounding as action-oriented, economic development leaders. UWM’s nationally recognized graduate programs in Urban Studies, Urban Planning, Sustainable Peacebuilding, Geography, and History have all housed Economic Development Fellows.

Riverwest Food Court sculpture

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
  • City Year

What are the Program Benefits?

Each ED Fellow receives:

  • Full tuition remission
  • Paid stipend for work in the community organization
  • Health insurance with dental and vision coverage

What Graduate Programs are Offered?

Economic Development Fellows work in the community

Economic Development Fellows are matched to community work placements in local non-profit organizations and city agencies. Fellows have worked on issues such as reindustrializing the Menomonee Valley on the southside of Milwaukee, 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 inner-city neighborhoods.

Organizations where Economic Development Fellows have been placed include the following:

Fellows accomplishments

Harambee Community signageA sampling of Fellows’ accomplishments includes:

  • helped 66 small business owners raise $375,500.00 in capital to start and expand their businesses;
  • drafting the successful application for “Main Street” designation for National Avenue;
  • established Mayor’s Youth Internship Program (now called Earn and Learn), placing hundreds of Milwaukee youth in paid summer internships in city agencies and non-profits;
  • coordinated economic development for the Lincoln Avenue Revitalization District, completed façade renovation, and street beautification projects;
  • established a public computer lab in a low-income neighborhood;
  • created and maintained an information clearinghouse on sustainability indicators for Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley;
  • 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;
  • carried out Utility Allowance Study of 400 public housing scattered sites, which led to recalculation of monthly utility allowances for public housing residents;
  • developed mural project depicting history and culture of an inner-city neighborhood;
  • developed policy approaches for career development programming for youth as part of the to the City of Milwaukee’s Economic Development Policy Plan;
  • 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.A separate application is required for the Economic Development Fellows Program.

Download the application form, complete the application and send to Lisa Heuler Williams at email or regular mail (See below).


For Fall admissions, the deadline to apply is February 16th.

Contact Information:

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