Wanted: Nonprofits that need apprentices

Kathy Kenney
Kathy Kenney

Todd  Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — Public Allies of North Carolina is looking for nonprofits from Greensboro to Garner that would like to hire emerging leaders for a 10-month apprenticeship.

Part of the national Public Allies program of AmeriCorps, the North Carolina group increased the number of apprentices this year to 20 from 12 a year ago because of greater demand from nonprofits and more applications from people ages 18 to 30.

But the recession has thrown the supply of allies and the demand for them out of balance.

The number of applications this year for the national program grew 75 percent, including 100 applications in North Carolina, up from just 20 a year ago.

At the same time, the number of nonprofits that can afford the $16,000 stipend for an ally has declined.

And while most applicants in past years tended to be recent college graduates, the recession has fueled an increase in applications from people who had been employed but may have lost their jobs, says Kathy Kenney, executive director of Public Allies of North Carolina.

And based on previous growth in demand, her group will be allocated 50 allies in 2010-11.

By early October, out of the 20 allies it has been allocated for this year, the group had placed only nine allies with nonprofits.

Two allies, for example, are working at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh, with one of them coordinating a program that provides a weekend supply of food for children and their families.

Two other allies have been placed with the Charlotte office of Boston-based Citizens Schools, which has assigned them to Lowe’s Grove Middle School in Durham, where one ally is working on an after-school nutrition program and the other works with teachers and students.

And another ally is serving as education and outreach coordinator for Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, or TROSA, in Durham.

Developing young leaders is the main focus of Public Allies, which since 1992 has placed a total of nearly 2,800 allies throughout the United States and has been operating in North Carolina since 2001.

Public Allies provides its participants with training about nonprofits, boards, fundraising, strategic planning, program development and communications.

It also pays for allies’ health insurance and gives them a $4,700 education award when they complete the 10-month program.

“Our goal is to make sure these individuals get the opportunity to gain leadership skills so they can be our future nonprofit leaders and community leaders,” Kenney says.

After graduating from Meredith College in the early 1990s, Kenney served as an AmeriCorps volunteer assigned to Communities in Schools of Durham, where she worked as school-parent coordinator, communicating with at-risk kids and their parents.

She then worked for over 17 years for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where her last job was director of community development.

Since leaving HUD, Kenney has worked as executive director of several nonprofits, including Saint Savior’s Center in Raleigh.

Her AmeriCorps apprenticeship, she says, helped her understand communities, including how they work, their needs, how those needs are affected by the economy, how nonprofits work and the role they play in addressing community needs.

“It really took people,” she says, “to make these organizations work.”

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