Current Fellows

Jen Benson | FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow at Riverkeeper | 2017

JenBensonStaffPhoto3As the Education and Outreach Coordinator, Jen develops opportunities for increasing youth environmental awareness of issues affecting the Hudson River, and direct youth service. Furthermore, Jen is building partnerships with high schools and colleges throughout the region, connecting students and faculty with Riverkeeper programs, and supports existing community outreach, advocacy, and volunteer efforts, including the annual Riverkeeper Sweep.

Reflections on the Fellowship:

“After graduating college, my extracurricular and academic interests led me to begin searching for career opportunities in the environmental non-profit field. By college graduation, I had been following Riverkeeper’s work for several years, and was looking out for an opportunity to join the team and fight for New York’s waterways. Through the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellowship, I’ve been able to follow my passion for fighting for the environment by engaging local communities. At Riverkeeper, I work with the Community Engagement team to educate and activate students and community members into advocates for their river through trainings, community meetings, and events like the Riverkeeper Sweep.

In the first year of my fellowship, I’ve worked to bring more students into our work through classroom visits, the Riverkeeper Sweep, and the High School and College Ambassador Programs. I have also had the opportunity to pilot a new data collection component of the Riverkeeper Sweep by partnering with local high school and university classes and clubs as a component of my Special Project.

The Fellowship has given me the opportunity to join an organization I respect immensely, while having additional support from the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation through retreats, mentorship, and overall support. With nearly a year any countless new experiences, projects, and trainings behind me, I’m looking forward to what the second year of my Fellowship will hold.”

Julia Filman | FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow at Row New York | 2017

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAY_AAAAJDBlNzNhM2ZmLWRiY2QtNDJjZS05MTE2LTk0MGM2NThkZDZmOA.jpgAs the Academic Program Coordinator, Julia assists in staff training, curriculum selection, and pre and post assessment administration. She also coordinates after-school academic tutoring assignment. Additionally, Julia guides high school seniors through the college application process, and administers college readiness workshops.

Reflections on the Fellowship:

“I first became interested in working with nonprofits after participating in a service learning program in my sophomore year of college. Up until then I wasn’t as familiar with the nonprofit sector and didn’t really know that I could have a fulfilling career in that field. But my time working with students and community members through various organizations during those undergraduate years opened my eyes to the kind of work that I really felt passionate about and led me to pursue exploring nonprofit opportunities, including the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellowship. 
My FAO fellowship with Row New York has been an incredible experience thus far. I continue to feel so lucky to have found this opportunity right after graduating from college. It is everything that I could’ve hoped for!  I have already felt myself grow so much in this one year, and hope to continue to grow and learn as I transition into my second year of the fellowship.
Having the chance to work directly with our participants, as well as becoming immersed in the larger organization through my special project, has allowed me to learn so much about my organization, and has given me great insight on the operations of nonprofits themselves. Beyond my position at Row New York, this fellowship has given me the wonderful gift of having a network of amazing peers who are working in similar organizations and fields, who I can always share with and rely on for support. I am so happy to have found this fellowship opportunity and to join the FAO family!”

Khari Graves | FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow at The Philadelphia Food Trust | 2017


Khari is currently working with the HYPE and Farm to School teams. With HYPE he does direct service in schools via a health, wellness, and leadership program that seeks to empower students and their schools through health and wellness while allowing students to take the lead in the planning of events and activities, while personally giving special emphasis on learning things in a way the informs students about and celebrates their individual cultures and backgrounds. As a farm to school associate he takes part in assorted local and national projects. Locally he provides guidance to schools and organizations who want to start gardens, give lessons on culturally competent foods and agriculture, and do various other forms of farm to school outreach. Nationally, he is working on a Racial, Equity, and Power Redistribution framework as a part of a five states nationwide project to boost Farm to Early Care education, funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

Reflections on the Fellowship:

“For as long as I can remember I wanted to help others through food. Whether that was through cooking for or with them, teaching them about different ingredients and their benefits, or outreach, it didn’t matter as long as I could be able to connect with others through food. As graduation got closer, I began to think seriously about moving fighting for food access, nutritional equity, and community power from just my personal passions into a career. Through The Fellowship and the Food Trust I was able to successfully do that, and found a career I truly care for.

Since being at The Food Trust I have been able to do all these things in more. Working with TFT to ensure that “Everyone Have Access to Healthy Food” has been an incredible opportunity and experience to not only work, but to learn, grown, and teach as well. Being a Philadelphia native, I relish the opportunities the Fellowship has given me to connect with people across the city, especially students and parents, and give them the opportunity to explore new things and have new experiences much like I did when I was a student. In addition to my work, the personal growth the fellowship has given me is great as well. By using the strong network of current and alumni fellows and mentors I always have someone to turn to for support, advice, and motivation.”

Allie Negron | FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow at uAspire| 2018


Allie is the FAO Schwarz Marketing & Communications Fellow at uAspire. In this role, she spreads awareness about uAspire’s work and college affordability news, both internally and externally, through blog posts, newsletters, and social media. In the other half of her role she serves as a College Affordability Advisor, where she works with Boston Public School students to guide them through every step of the financial aid process. Prior to joining uAspire, she served as an English teaching assistant in France through the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). Allie graduated from American University with a B.A. in Public Communication and French.

Reflections on the Fellowship:

“Similarly to many college seniors, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I was fortunate to get the opportunity to move to France after graduating to teach English for a year and really figure out what it was that I wanted to do career wise. While in college I had an interest in education, specifically it’s history and policies, but I didn’t dive deeper into this interest. Living in France became the perfect opportunity to explore my budding interest in education and education policy. While searching for jobs I found the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellowship, which then led me to uAspire.

I feel so fortunate to have found the fellowship. It combines my communications degree with my interest in education access and equity, making it a job that truly is the best of both worlds. I love being able to work directly with students while also gaining insight into how a nonprofit functions from a development perspective. I work in a high school where I help seniors through the financial aid process. Not only is this work in the school extremely gratifying but it influences my communications projects– and I don’t think there are many communications jobs out there where you’re directly serving the audiences you’re communicating to and with.

Over the next year, I am excited to continue growing as a nonprofit professional through the fellowship while simultaneously learning more about education equity and access, and how I can better serve the needs of my students.”

Ellie Sanchez | FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow at Generation Citizen | 2017


As the Generation Citizen Massachusetts Program Associate, Ellie provides training and quality assurance for College Volunteers and manages strong school partnerships to ensure the highest-quality action civics are delivered to students in Massachusetts. She manages four college chapters, 30 school partnerships, and provides action civics education to over 3,000 students yearly.

Reflections on the Fellowship:

“During and after college, I got involved with education-based nonprofits, like Jumpstart and City Year, providing day-to-day educational resources to youth in under resourced communities, like mine, through direct service. Although, I was very proud of my work  and could see the impact I was making on my students, I knew that I wanted to learn more and do more beyond direct-service. I wanted to work to develop stronger programs, advise on curriculum, and develop workshops for volunteers. I wanted to reach more students at a higher capacity.

Becoming an FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow fed all of my professional desires. Through my experience with the fellowship, and my organization, I have developed many skills. For instance, deconstructing and reconstructing a Cultural Competency training for over 300 college volunteers, delivering productive and solution-oriented feedback, and simply not being afraid to have six meetings in one day over the phone (millennial anxieties are hard to kick). I have been able to take a lot of what I learned through my “on the ground” nonprofit experiences, and put them to use on an organizational level. I don’t think I could have conducted workshops on the importance of building relationships with students as effectively if I had not myself spent four years supporting classrooms.

There is still so much I don’t know, and even if I do know it, I can always get better. Still, I am willing to continue to grow as a nonprofit leader, and will continue developing valuable skills, and work hard to deliver urban youth the resources they need not only to survive, but to thrive.”

Claudia von Nostitz| FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow at Reading Partners | 2018


Claudia is the FAO Fellow for Reading Partners in New York City where she seeks to expand literacy programming to elementary school students struggling with reading. Her role consists of tutoring students to bring them up to grade level, strengthening foundational reading skills and providing in-school support to two partner schools in Brooklyn. She also is developing city-wide strategies to engage the communities which we serve in our program through volunteerism, building sustainable partnerships that will help support and empower the students that she works with.

Reflections on the Fellowship:

“Attending public school in New York City from Kindergarten through High School, I have always believed strongly in the power of public education. I strongly believe that hands-on learning and direct service can have an incredible impact on New York City’s most valuable resource: the future generation of diverse leaders.

The FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellowship is such a unique opportunity for me because it joins together two of my passions, direct service with youth and strategic program design. I have learned so much in my first year as Fellow already, from what it takes to support a strong volunteer base to partnering with community based organizations to work together to provide resources to families in New York City. I am excited to continue to build out structures that will best spread education access to our students.
My experiences with direct service and education programs have led me to where I am today and my Fellowship at Reading Partners continues to fuel my drive to empower New York City youth to reach their fullest potential.”

Karen Wilber | FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow at uAspire| 2018


Karen is the FAO Schwarz Succeed Fellow at uAspire. In her position, she is part of the team that develops curriculum for the Succeed program and is a College Affordability Advisor serving college students. Karen is originally from the Chicagoland area and graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Human Development and Psychological Services. Before coming to uAspire, she spent one year teaching English to high school students in a small city in northern Viet Nam.

Reflections on the Fellowship:

“I have had such an incredible experience at uAspire since I started my fellowship, and I have the design of the fellowship and my position to thank for that. uAspire’s mission is: to ensure that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to – and through – a postsecondary education. Much of what I have the opportunity to be a part of is the “through” part of our mission. By advising postsecondary students via text an in-person, I am able to support students in unlocking solutions to making college more affordable. This pairs perfectly with my special projects work in which I’m part of the efforts to research and document challenges that college students face in an effort to develop solutions that can be implemented into our advising work.

Not only has the design of the fellowship allowed me to dedicate my time to both advising and program development, but it has also built in a structure of support that has contributed to my happiness and success. Between my alumni mentor, trustee mentor, peer fellows, (and even another fellow at uAspire as a bonus!), I have felt such a great sense of community in a time that learning about other people’s experiences is so beneficial for my growth. Having learned and grown so much just partway through my first year, I’m excited for what the rest of my fellowship holds for me.”

Ciara Williams  | FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow at Mural Arts Philadelphia| 2018

Fellow bio to come

Reflections on the Fellowship to come: