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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Eric Hydeman hopes his tenure at the Delaware Adolescent Program will prepare him for a teaching career. Hydeman, 24, is creating and supporting new mentors and mentees in the program, which affords pregnant teenagers the opportunity to continue their education and to receive prenatal care. He would like to eventually open his own school in an inner city. “The best thing you can give is options,” Hydeman says. “If families have options in schools, they can find one that fits their children’s needs.”
The Allies’ contribution to Delaware has been invaluable. Since 1994, the organization has graduated 255 alumni, served 279,533 Delawareans, performed more than 500,000 hours of service, and partnered with more than 150 nonprofit and government agencies. Its participation has often been the deciding factor as to whether a nonprofit can expand existing programs or offer new services, says John D. Baker, executive director of the Delaware Association of Nonprofit Agencies.
Lucy O’Donnell, executive director of the Delaware Adolescent Program, says expanding the organization’s mentoring services throughout the state would be impossible without Hydeman. “I would never have been able to hire a person to do that at a full rate,” she says. “So because of the cost effectiveness of having a Public Ally and the constant support that they’re getting, it’s a perfect fit.”
In addition to helping the nonprofits, Public Allies helps participants grow professionally and personally. The satisfaction rate of Delaware alumni is 90 percent, compared with a national average of 75 percent, says Garrett-Morrow.
Alfred Lance Jr. says his apprenticeship at the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League taught him how to reconcile his idealism with the world of work. “It’s OK to be idealistic, but at the end of the day you have to have realistic steps to get to that idealistic conclusion,” says Lance, 30, an alumnus of the class of 2007.
Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman credits her Public Allies experience with teaching her how to collaborate with people of different backgrounds. “In my particular class, we had a really diverse group,” says Lockman, 31. An alumna of the class of 2005, she is now program manager of the Hearts and Minds Film Initiative. “We had people who were finishing GEDs all the way to people from Ivy League schools, different racial mixtures and religious backgrounds. We were forced to find common ground because you don’t have any choice but to overcome your differences.”
For others, the impact has been more profound. Founding executive director Tony Allen recalls an experience he had with a single mom in the first Public Allies class. A traumatic personal experience had all but stopped her from communicating until she related the experience at a meeting. “She said, ‘Public Allies gave me my voice back,’” says Allen. “That was 1995, and it’s given the voice back to so many young people. That’s why it’s important.”