St. Louis Coro Fellows Program relaunching in 2021 at UMSL

by | Nov 11, 2020

St. Louis is one of five Coro sites nationally developing civic-minded graduates who work and lead across government, business and nonprofit sectors.
St. Louis Coro Fellows Program

The St. Louis Coro Fellows Program is relaunching after a two-year hiatus and will now be housed in UMSL’s Community Innovation and Action Center. The program develops emerging leaders to work and lead across government, business and nonprofit sectors. (Photo courtesy of St. Louis Coro Fellows Program)

The St. Louis Coro Fellows Program has a nearly 50-year history of developing graduates who make an impact throughout the region, country and world.

A new partnership with the University of Missouri–St. Louis will help reestablish that tradition as the program restarts with a new Fellows class in the fall of 2021 at UMSL. The program will be housed in the Community Innovation and Action Center.

The St. Louis Coro Fellows Program also announced the beginning of a $350,000 fundraising campaign to support its on-going efforts.

“The Coro Fellows program is about leadership development and positive transformation,” UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik said during a Zoom conference Tuesday evening announcing the relaunch and new partnership. “I am so pleased to have these two mission-driven organizations aligned to the betterment of the broader St. Louis region.”

“UMSL’s prominence in the region and mission as a land-grant institution provides the ideal home for the St. Louis Coro Fellowship, allowing it to grow its impact on the St. Louis region while preserving its independence and neutrality,” said Ellen Alper, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women – STL, a 1983 Fellows graduate and the chair of the Coro relaunch committee. “UMSL’s public and internal commitment to diversity and inclusion matches the Coro Fellows Program’s initial commitments when it began in St. Louis 47 years ago.”

The Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs was brought to St. Louis in 1973 with the support of the Danforth Foundation that believed in the program’s unique ability to advance the region. Since then, the Coro Fellowship has been critical to St. Louis’s ability to attract and develop talent. Fellows graduates can be found in every sector of the St. Louis economy – from building the BioTech industry to holding elected office to representing leaders in economic development and criminal justice reform, Coro Fellow graduates are difference makers.

The restart of the Coro Fellows program, which experienced a two-year hiatus, in part due to the pandemic, comes at an important time. As the St. Louis region combats the COVID-19 public health crisis, as well as its subsequent economic fallout, the Coro Fellows Program attracts and trains top talent from around the country to drive tangible results to move the region forward. Each year, participants work full-time, committing a collective 12,000 hours completing high-impact projects in dozens of organizations. In a region with many competing priorities, a Community Advisory Board will inform which issues Fellows will work to address over the course of the program year.

“The Coro Fellows program prepares high caliber young people to lead in ways that strengthen democracy,” said Paul Sorenson, co-director of the Community Innovation and Action Center. “To have a strong and vibrant region, all voices are heard. The racial inequities in St. Louis are well documented. Investing in the Coro Fellows program is investing in a future St. Louis that is equitable, resilient and thriving.”

The Coro Fellows program is launching a fundraising campaign to ensure its sustainability for years to come. Already, Coro Fellows alumni and other donors have contributed over $35,000 to the restart. The team leading the restart is actively seeking the financial support required to relaunch Coro. Donations may be made at

The St. Louis Coro Fellows Program is one of five Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs programs – the others operating in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and New York City.

CIAC is an excellent fit to serve as its new home. The nonacademic center envisions a region that creates whole communities for all. It works toward this mission by building powerful leaders, fostering effective nonprofits and governments, supporting strong community partnerships and developing shared infrastructure and public policy.

Adriano Udani, a St. Louis Coro Fellows graduate and now an associate professor of political science and director of the public policy administration program at UMSL, sees potential for further collaboration with UMSL’s community-focused faculty members.

“UMSL could really supplement a Coro Fellow’s experience because much of the program is very experiential and embedded in the community,” Udani said. “I think it could enhance their learning to work with academics and professors of practice to help understand and connect their ground level observations to peer-reviewed, evidence-based research to clarify their thinking and forward their interests.”

Media Coverage:
St. Louis Business Journal

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik