Eli Stacy is paying it forward.
His own educational journey from First Colonial High School to Tidewater Community College to the University of Virginia was seamless. But he knows it isn’t always that simple.
As the Jobs Plus program coordinator for Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority in Ohio, Stacy connects young people with education and jobs. The objective is to help them focus on achieving positive goals and guide them through the process of getting into college. He also teaches life skills to help them become productive adults.
“This is one of the most challenging and rewarding positions of my life,” said Stacy, who earned his Associate of Science in Social Sciences from TCC in 2014. “It gives me extreme joy knowing my life is creating impact in the lives of the young people I’m serving. I encourage them to move forward and remind them that it doesn’t have to be a big step – just a step forward.”
Stacy is also completing a public service fellowship through the Cleveland Foundation. It’s a position he earned while earning his bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Virginia. He is working with other fellows to innovatively create new solutions to lingering civic issues.
Stacy comes from humble means. The youngest of six brothers, he grew up with few resources. After his mother died when he was 6, the family struggled. During his senior year in high school, they became homeless.
“I learned early on that when you’re worried about your most basic needs, it’s really tough to focus on school,” he said.
Achieving his education honored his mother’s wishes. He graduated from TCC with a 4.0 and held a 3.7 at U.Va. “She wanted me to get an education and really do something to make a difference,” he said.
He’s not done with school, either. Stacy is at Cleveland State University pursuing his master of public administration.
“I remember all of the people who were there for me when I needed help. Now it’s my time to guide young people away from poor choices and into promising futures,” he said.
Ultimately, Stacy plans a career in local government. He hopes to grow civic engagement in underprivileged neighborhoods and impact the communities he serves.
“I tell the youth I work with not to be afraid to ask questions and be wrong,” Stacy said. “I want them to look at education as building blocks for your life. I’m living proof that you can make it step by step.”