Mapping the future – Group taking year off

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — -North Carolina Public Allies is taking a year off to assess its first seven years and map its future.

The Durham-based program, which assigns up to two-dozen 18-to-30-year-olds a year to Triangle nonprofits for 10-month apprenticeships, is talking to alumni and nonprofit leaders about its impact and direction.

Based on feedback it gets, the group in February will revise its strategic plan and begin to recruit a new class of apprentices and nonprofits at which to place them, says Cal Allen, program director.

The group, one of 10 local programs throughout the U.S. overseen by Milwaukee-based Public Allies, has placed apprentices with more than 70 Triangle nonprofits since it started in 1994.

Allen says the local Public Allies board of advisers decided to regroup in the face of departures by three senior staff members, including Meredith Emmett, its executive director, who resigned a year ago to form a consulting business.

Issues under study include the training provided to allies, the types of groups they’re assigned to and the types of services they offer.

While no decisions have been made, Allen says, he expects Public Allies will add one month to the apprenticeship program, build stronger ties with alumni and provide allies with expanded training, particularly in the use of technology and the nature of power in North Carolina.

Training in the nature of power – including how it flows through an organization, and who controls it – will be provided in partnership with the Wildacres Leadership Initiative, North Carolina Youth for Tomorrow and the continuing-education certificate program in nonprofit management at Duke University.

Public Allies has raised nearly half its $115,000 budget for this year from a handful of foundations and companies, including the Warner Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, Fenwick Foundation and Cisco Systems.

Cisco also has donated the work of Peter Tavernise, the company’s former community investment manager in Research Triangle Park, who is working as a consultant to Public Allies as a Cisco fellow. Cisco created its year-long fellows program to retain employees it laid off earlier this year.

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