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Fellowship Polishes Nonprofit Skills

Most fellowships don't start with a raft trip down the Colorado River, but Trevor Findley '06 got lucky.

His El Pomar Fellowship started with a team building exercise that included negotiating 30 sets of rapids --with names like Capsize and Big Drop -- through Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The 90-mile stretch is known as one of the swiftest river passages on the continent.

"It was exciting because we were learning rafting skills, but also team building skills that we can apply to our work," Findley says.

That work revolves around the El Pomar Foundation's Community Stewardship programs in urban and rural communities in Colorado. The El Pomar Fellowship, a highly competitive, two-year program, nurtures leadership skills as fellows fan out across the state, working on the front lines of philanthropy. Fellows are assigned to different foundation programs; Findley's program addresses needs specific to each region of the state.

"I've been assigned to the High Country, which includes a lot of the resort towns," says Findley, who works with a regional council to focus on health care. "Service workers in the resort communities often don't make a living wage and there are a surprising number of uninsured children."

Findley's role with the council is to identify organizations that address specific needs -- including a lack of providers and the difficulty of enrolling children in the state health care program -- from multiple angles. He has researched physician loan repayment programs that may attract providers and collaborated with community organizations to create plans to enroll children.

Findley has also worked with the Empty Stocking Fund, an annual community fundraiser that supports 14 human service agencies in the Pikes Peak Region. Last year's campaign raised more than a million dollars to help families with housing, emergency food and other needs.

"I enjoy this work," says Findley, who is completing professional development courses in nonprofit management and grant making as part of his fellowship program. "Wherever I choose to go after this experience, this knowledge will help," he says.

It's not his first exposure to nonprofit work. After graduation he taught children in inner city Las Vegas with Teach for America, an organization that places high-achieving college graduates in schools in underserved areas, where they work with the nation's most needy children.
"I loved my experience at Willamette," says Findley, who majored in international studies, minored in politics and economics, and served as president of his Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He was also an Associated Students senator and played lacrosse.

He hopes to pursue youth development and advocacy, and will probably head back to school for studies in law or policy -- or both -- after his fellowship ends.

For information on this scholarship and others, contact Monique Bourque in the Student Academic Grants and Awards office on the third floor of the University Center, or visit www.willamette.edu/dept/saga/.