Nonprofit Organizations in Delaware: Public Allies Delaware Prepares Young Adults for Careers at Nonprofits Through Apprenticeships in Services Like Youth Development, Public Health, Community and Economic Development and Housing
Public Allies may be one of the most important nonprofits in the state, and that couldn’t make its participants happier.
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They serve 10-month paid apprenticeships at nonprofits throughout the state and participate in creating, improving and expanding services that address a variety of issues, including youth development, public health, community and economic development, and housing.
Allies also participate in weekly training sessions conducted by community leaders and Public Allies staff to improve their skills in areas ranging from public speaking to grant writing to conflict resolution to community development.
What sets Public Allies apart from other service organizations is its commitment to training the next generation of leaders for the nonprofits.
“What I liked about it and still like about it is that it encourages careers,” says Dr. Suzanne Sysko Clough, who founded the Delaware site in 1994. Sysko Clough is now chief medical officer of WellDoc, a Baltimore-based healthcare company she founded, which uses technology to improve disease management and reduce healthcare costs. “It’s not just, ‘Hey come do this one-off, one-year public service project.’ It really gives them skills to find a career filled with passion in the public sector.”
Sysko Clough postponed entering medical school to create the Delaware site because she wanted to show that Generation Xers were not as disengaged from civic responsibility as experts believed. That commitment to service is evident in Generation Y, as well. In 16 years, Public Allies Delaware has expanded from 17 allies to 30, and it will continue to grow and meet demand from both applicants and agencies, says executive director Christina Garrett-Morrow.
“I think this generation, the Millennials, has grown up with the expectation of service,” Garrett-Morrow says. “Some schools even require it for graduation, so it’s already sort of ingrained in them.”
Applicants are recruited from job fairs, the organization’s Web site and college referrals. Though most Allies hold college degrees, a GED is the only requirement for entering the program. Some Allies bring a wealth of life experience to their work. Some have even spent time in prison.
Garrett-Morrow says the organization is ramping up its recruitment efforts. “We’re getting more into the community because we want Allies that are representatives of the communities that we serve,” she says, “but also we’ve noticed with our team service projects that, when you’re in a local community, you kind of want to help a little bit more.”
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