A longtime Midwesterner, Sara Maillacheruvu graduated with honors from the University of Chicago in 2018 and returned to her hometown of Peoria, Illinois, where she spent two years working in community development as an urban planner. While there, she researched affordable housing trends and created policy proposals, relevant and applicable to the local context, for the Council’s consideration. She also led the City's efforts in addressing food equity and disparity in disinvested neighborhoods. Partnering with community members to elevate neighborhood voice, she went after grants and organized fresh food markets with wraparound services to address food access and the social determinants of health with an equity lens.
Field placement: Native American Agriculture Fund
Sara analyzed Native American Agriculture Fund NAAF's 2020 grantmaking portfolio to identify funding needs and gaps. She integrated these findings into an advocacy report, pinpointing areas of Native agriculture that are currently underfunded and could benefit from targeted investment by other foundations and/or institutional donors. She also assisted in strategic communication efforts and created storytelling webpage content for each of NAAF's 180+ past and current grantees.
Policy placement: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Sara worked with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research institute that analyzes and advocates for federal and state policies that reduce poverty and promote equity. She researched historical factors of racialized rates of food insecurity and wrote four foundational reports tracing these root causes forward. In addition, she built out section summaries, outlines, and annotated bibliographies for each report for future staff reference.