Current Fellows

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

Allie Negron headshot

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.”

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

headshot_cropCiara is the FAO Fellow at Mural Arts Philadelphia where she works with the Restored Spaces Initiative. In her main role, she acts as an environmental educator for Trash Academy, a “collaboratory” between community members in Southeast Philly, artists, and environmental activists. The project seeks to inspire a wellspring of actions around trash issues and tests and shares the best grassroots solutions that emerge. Ciara is from Chester, Pennsylvania and graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in Education and Environmental Studies. Before coming to Mural Arts Philadelphia, she managed the Chester Youth Courts, a youth-led disciplinary model rooted in restorative justice and was also the garden manager at an elementary school where she focused on science-based garden instruction.

“The FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellowship has allowed me to continue my involvement in areas of deep importance to me. I was first exposed to environmental justice through community organizing in my hometown of Chester, PA. That experience helped me to develop as an activist and action researcher while also laying a foundation that has supported my development in other fields. The Fellowship’s focus on direct service and special project work creates a structure upon which I can apply the interests and skills I am already practiced in while also supporting my growth in new areas.

My host organization, Mural Arts Philadelphia, is committed to supporting my growth and creating opportunities for my strengths to make an impact on communities. I feel confident that my interests and abilities will continue to shape what my work will look like within Mural Arts’ Restored Spaces Initiative. Through this work, I have been exposed to a model of community engagement that operates at the intersection of public art, self-determination, and the built environment. I feel like this practice is truly unique to Restored Spaces and I am so thankful to be in a position where I can take part in our projects as they unfold.”