Public Allies has been in operation since 1992. Paul Schmitz adopted the idea to “identify a diversity of talented young adults and create opportunities for them to practice leadership and strengthen their communities in a new alliance with people from neighborhoods, non-profits, business, and government.” Currently, Public Allies has offices in Washington D.C., Wilmington, DE, Chicago, IL, Cincinnati, OH, San Jose, CA, and Durham, NC. Public Allies addresses needs in the areas of youth development and education, economy, health and human services, public safety, and environmental issues.
Graduating in July of this year, 22 Allies (program participants), ages 18-30 were placed at 21 different agencies and completed a total of more than 37,000 hours of service. The Allies participated in a 10-month apprenticeship, which included leadership development, professional training, service learning, and team building. In exchange for their work, Allies receive a $13,250 living allowance, health and child care benefits, and an educational award. They spent four days a week at nonprofit organizations and government agencies where they created, improved, or expanded services. On Fridays, they participated in workshops to build their skills, and worked on team service projects. In Public Allies Milwaukee’s first four program years, they have developed 96 young leaders and are continuing to add on to this.
The Allies split up into teams, working on three service projects this year. The Health Education Center Team developed a comprehensive asthma program called the Asthma School Days Project, to be integrated into the Milwaukee Public School System. More than 1,400 students with asthma, primarily in grades 3-5, participated in the educational program at the Health Education Center between October 1997 and March 1998. The children learned the definition of asthma, early warning signs and monitoring methods, environmental controls, and the roles and use of asthma medications.
The Youth Mapping Team continued a project from the previous year, coordinating a Youth Asset Mapping Project where young people surveyed their neighborhoods in search of youth resources. The team worked with young people in five different neighborhoods, organizing a series of neighborhood meetings for the young people to present their finding from the previous summer. Their final event included a weekend retreat at a youth hostel that incorporated skill building activities for the Youth Mappers’ continued involvement in the project.
The Mid-Town Neighborhood Association Team worked to gather information for a resource manual for the residents of the Neighborhood Strategic Planning area of the Mid-Town area. The manual was distributed at a resource fair at the park adjoining the neighborhood association. Approximately 2,000 people attended the fair and received the information-packed manual. Additional manuals were distributed to individuals and organizations in the Mid-Town neighborhood that were unable to attend the resource fair.
Last year, the Jekovian Company reported that one of the greatest competencies of the Allies is their ability to recruit and manage volunteers to serve in their community. The Institute for Higher Education Policy’s research attests that 65% of Public Allies’ alumni are active in community service and 50% serve on boards of nonprofit organizations.
With the help of AmeriCorps and private contributions, Public Allies Milwaukee nurtures effective leaders capable of tackling Milwaukee’s biggest challenges.