Evelin Montes Wins Strauss Scholarship
Evelin Montes, a junior urban and environmental policy major at Occidental College, has been awarded a $10,000 Donald A. Strauss Scholarship to help launch the MacArthur Park Collaborative, a committee of neighborhood organizations and community members that will identify ways to improve one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
Montes, who grew up in and continues to live in the region west of downtown, one day hopes to open a community resource center near MacArthur Park. “The MacArthur Park area suffers from many social and economic problems, but also has many strengths that require nurturing and organizing in order to give its residents a stronger voice in local government,” Montes said.
“The bottom line is that the members of this community do not have a united political voice to self-advocate,” she added. “They are not able to reach policy makers to strengthen their communities.”
Montes will identify community strengths through a process called “asset mapping.” Over the next year, the collaborative will lead focus groups to assess the community’s needs; involve, recruit and train community members in developing a plan of action; and help prepare for a community-initiated civic campaign. Coalition LA, a resident group, and Public Allies-Los Angeles, an AmeriCorps organization, will co-supervise the project with Montes.
“Evelin is committed to using her skills to improve society and to become an effective policy analyst and advocate,” said Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics at Occidental. “She has the kind of passion that makes for an effective advocate and the kind of common sense that understands the importance of pragmatism and compromise.”
The Newport Beach-based Donald A. Strauss Scholarship Foundation awards 15 scholarships a year to juniors at Occidental and 13 other California colleges and universities, including Caltech, Stanford, UC Berkeley and UCLA. The late Strauss, an Orange County business executive, had a lifelong interest in education and public service.