O’Neill Alumni Spotlight: Devon Stewart (Annual Giving Manager at After School Matters)

Photo of Devon Stewart

Name: Devon Stewart 

Organization: After School Matters 

Position: Annual Giving Manager 

Location: Chicago, Illinois 

Alma Mater: BSPA in Nonprofit Management ‘18, MPA in Nonprofit Management and International Development ‘19

Devon Stewart came to the O’Neill School for three reasons: Indiana University had the most beautiful campus, the nonprofit management program at SPEA was the best in the world, and she wanted to experience something new after growing up in Wisconsin. Coming to college, Stewart was interested in nonprofits but found her passion for education policy when she did a project on other countries’ education systems for Dr. Jennifer Brass and saw how much room for growth there was in the U.S. education system.

This experience led to her first job out of college at Chicago Lights, a nonprofit focused on social services and an after-school program in Chicago, Illinois. Although she loved the mission of the organization, she was looking for a bigger nonprofit with more resources, which led her to After School Matters. This after school program for teens in Chicago Public Schools is the nation’s largest provider of arts, communications, leadership, STEM, and sports programming which pays them for their participation. 

At After School Matters, she loves being a fundraiser and really cares about providing meaningful programming for teens. What motivates her every day is showing up for the teens. She says, “they deserve to have people invested in them” and she feels lucky to have a hand in that. She also finds meaning in how fun, enjoyable, and unexpected her job is, as you never know what’s to come. Recently, she had the opportunity to go backstage during Lollapalooza with ASM teens who created artwork to support the festival.

One of the most important aspects of her job was learning how to write concisely to reach the largest audience. Although she loved her O’Neill education, everything she wrote was long-form essays. In the nonprofit world, employers are looking for short snappy emails and social media posts. She quickly learned the best way to increase engagement in donor appeals and across social media is to make your message compelling and to the point. 

Stewart wants to remind students to take a deep breath and be appreciative of where you are in the moment. She always considered herself a driven and committed student but felt lost when she graduated in May 2019 without a job lined up. It was a very stressful time in her life when applications and interviews were going nowhere. After taking a step back and refocusing her energy, she got her break and began working at Chicago Lights. Stewart explains some of the best years of her life were at IU, but then graduated and had another amazing 5 years. She advises students to always follow their dreams because her freshman self would not believe where she is today. 

After School Matters Logo
By Brianna Wright
Brianna Wright Peer Educator