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Social Capitalists: Public Allies

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2008 Winner

Public Allies

Paul Schmitz, president and CEO
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Public Allies advances new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits, and civic participation. We are the premier pipeline for developing diverse, young nonprofit and community leaders, and preparing leaders and organizations to lead more effectively for our changing times.

Our Approach: New Leadership for New Times

Our communities, our country and our world are changing rapidly. Today’s most challenging issues call for a new kind of leadership that engages all people to create change. Public Allies believes that the next generation of American leaders needs to look like America will look, connect across cultures, facilitate collaborative action, recognize all of a community’s assets, commit to self-development, and be accountable for results. Because leadership rarely comes from where it is expected, Public Allies looks in new places and networks leaders across social boundaries to create real change. We believe the leadership needed is already resident in communities -— it’s only a matter of finding, cultivating, and connecting these leaders to make a difference.

Our Strategy: Changing the Face and Practice of Leadership

Our signature program recruits talented young adults who are from the communities we serve –- about 67% of our Allies are people of color, 60% are women, 50% are college graduates, and 15% LGBT. The Allies serve in paid, full-time apprenticeships at nonprofit organizations where they create, improve and expand services with measurable results. Allies also participate in a rigorous leadership development program that blends intensive skills training, personalized coaching, community building, team projects, 360-reviews, and presentations of learning where they demonstrate how they have improved their leadership and how they will lead in the future.

Achieving real results. 95% of Allies have met or exceeded the expectations of the organizations where they served, and they’ve built their capacity in many ways. For example, 315 Allies recruited 11,148 volunteers who contributed 105,000 hours of service to their communities last year (an economic value of $2 million). Our nonprofit partners gain this value at low cost –- they save $20,000, on average, from what it would cost to achieve their outcomes without us.

A growing network. More than 2,200 Allies have completed our program and more than 80% continue to work in the nonprofit and public sectors, and their level of civic and political engagement more than doubles their age cohort. Public Allies continues to invest in and support our alumni leaders.

Our network includes Paul Griffin, who founded City At Peace, an academic enrichment, community service and arts program that has benefited more than 2,000 teens in 5 US cities, Israel and South Africa, and has been featured on HBO and Nightline specials. It also includes Evelin Montes, the leader of Collective SPACE in Los Angeles, where she is engaging residents in the MacArthur Park neighborhood to improve health, education, economic opportunity and public safety.

Changing the Practice. The Leadership Practice, our training and consulting arm, expands the scale and scope of our social impact, by delivering knowledge and techniques to leaders and organizations across sectors. Recognizing that the nonprofit sector employs 14 million workers – almost one out of nine Americans – we co-founded the Nonprofit Sector Workforce Coalition to help the sector better recruit and retain diverse young talent, and are helping many groups better recruit and develop diverse leadership.

Our Growing Impact

Public Allies expects to grow from 15 to 35 communities by the year 2012. There is also an urgent market need for our knowledge and experience. Our leadership development curriculum, diversity and community building approaches, evaluation and performance management tools, and Alumni program have been recognized as best practices in the field.