Today’s young Americans are the most diverse in history, and they are inheriting some of our country’s greatest challenges. Racial and socioeconomic barriers to meaningful and family-sustaining employment perpetuate inequality and limit the life chances of too many promising young people. The employment rate for young adults is at its lowest level in decades, and far too many young people of color struggle to gain a foothold in the job market.
Public Allies is intentional about recruiting young leaders whose promise and potential are too frequently overlooked, dismissed, or ignored, including young adults aging out of the foster care system; our brothers and sisters who must remake their lives following incarceration; and single mothers seeking a bridge from GED to college and career. They need – and deserve – opportunities like Public Allies to activate their full leadership potential.
Since 1992, we have helped thousands of underrepresented young leaders serve our country, get on successful pathways to higher education and careers, and bring communities together to work for the common good. We operate our signature AmeriCorps program in 25 communities nationwide.
AmeriCorps Allies are individuals from our communities who are committed to making a difference through service, and who are looking for an opportunity to build skills and a network of emerging grassroots leaders. Our AmeriCorps Ally program, which generally lasts 10 months and is a paid opportunity with benefits, is available to all, without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, criminal record, political affiliation, marital or parental status, military service, community, or social affiliations. Anyone over 17 years with a high school diploma or GED, and who is a U.S. citizen or has permanent residency, is welcome to apply.
Public Allies is an American nonprofit organization that operates an AmeriCorps program and is dedicated to young-adult leadership development. Its mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.
Public Allies was founded in 1992 by Vanessa Kirsch and Katrina Browne, recent college graduates who wanted to challenge the notion that their generation was apathetic and uncaring. Grounded in the belief that the untapped energy and idealism of young people can be a powerful force for transforming communities, Kirsch and Browne created Public Allies to provide a pipeline for diverse young leaders to begin careers in public life.
In 1993, Public Allies Chicago was launched with 30 Allies under the leadership of founding Executive Director Michelle Obama. She served as Chicago director until 1996, and then as a national board member from 1997 to 2001. Also in 1993, President Bill Clinton named Public Allies as a model for national service.
In 1994, Public Allies, along with Habitat for Humanity and YouthBuild, were among the first recipients of AmeriCorps grants, which allowed for expansion to Delaware, Milwaukee, and North Carolina. In 1995, Public Allies opened a site Silicon Valley and San Francisco, followed by Cincinnati (1998), New York and Los Angeles (1999), and Eagle Rock, Colorado (2002). Additional sites include Connecticut (2004); Arizona and Pittsburgh (2006); Miami, New Mexico, and San Antonio (2007); Indianapolis and Maryland (2009); Central Florida and the Twin Cities (2010); and Detroit and Iowa (2013).
In 2014, Adren O. Wilson, Ph.D., was appointed CEO, replacing Paul Schmitz, who had served as CEO since 2000.
Public Allies has about 6,000 alumni.
The Public Allies logo draws on Native American tradition to illustrate the impact individuals can have on their world. The handprint depicted in the logo represents the mark that people leave on their communities and on the people they touch in the course of their lives. The red swirl stands for the energy and idealism that drive people to serve their communities. The seven rays refer to a philosophy regarding the interconnectedness of the generations—the belief that an individual living today has been influenced by the three preceding generations, and will go on to leave a legacy affecting the three generations to go eat.
Mission and programs
Public Allies' mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. They are changing the face and practice of leadership in communities across the country by demonstrating our conviction that everyone can lead, and that lasting social change results when citizens of all backgrounds step up, take responsibility, and work together.
There are 23 Public Allies sites nationwide, 20 of which are operated in partnership with a local nonprofit organization or university. More than 80% of Allies come from the communities in which they serve.
Public Allies has employed three main strategies to deliver its mission: 1) Paid apprenticeship and leadership program in partnership with AmeriCorps, 2) Alumni engagement, and 3) Advocacy.
Public Allies combines a 10-month nonprofit apprenticeship program with a community-centered, values-based approach to foster leadership development. For four days each week, Allies serve at a community-based nonprofit, and the fifth day is devoted to rigorous leadership training. All members also engage in a number of community service projects.
Public Allies continues to develop the leadership practice (i.e., their skills, career and network) and impact of the Alumni of its AmeriCorps Apprenticeship Program (#PAAlum) and those who've worked at Public Allies (#StaffAlum). As of March 2015, there are nearly 5,500 that comprise this network.
More than 85% of program graduates continue their careers in nonprofit and public service. In 2014, Public Allies organized its first Alumni Summit on Black Male Achievement in Washington, D.C. Summit attendees included 30 African American male program graduates, who advised White House officials on the Administration’s “My Brother's Keeper” initiative.
Public Allies has been a leader in efforts to build the next generation of diverse talent and leadership for the non-profit sector. It has influenced the national service field to become more inclusive and has been seen as a pathway to opportunity. Working with Voices for National Service, the White House Council for Community Solutions, The Aspen Institute, and the Service Pathways Initiative, Public Allies played a major role in influencing AmeriCorps, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the broader national service field to increase the diversity of the people engaging in national service.
Public Allies’ six core values are integrated into the program:
Collaboration: The ability to facilitate, negotiate, build consensus, build strong teams, and empower others.
Continuous Learning: The ability to question assumptions and beliefs, understand strengths and shortcomings, and commit to continued growth within a community context.
Diversity & Inclusion: The ability to work effectively and inclusively with different people and understand how to adapt to different cultures and environments.
Focus on Assets: The ability to catalyze the natural leadership of everyone, be truly accountable to those served, and approach opportunities for change with awareness of community assets.
Integrity: The ability to meet commitments, act responsibly with public and personal trust, and be accountable for words and actions.
Geographical reach and operating partners
Public Allies partners with nonprofit organizations and universities to operate 23 Public Allies sites nationwide.
MILWAUKEE, WI 53202-4104 | Tax-exempt since April 1992
Classification (NTEE) Human Service Organizations - Multipurpose (Human Services — Multipurpose and Other)
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.
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