ASU Lodestar Center


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Public Allies Arizona nonprofit partners discuss the fruitful collaboration, finishing its 13th year

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Members of Public Allies Arizona's 13th cohort listen to a speaker before presenting about their 10 months in the AmeriCorps program run by the ASU Lodestar Center. Eight students, of the class of 30, talked about their contributions and impact in various nonprofits around the Valley and the impact the experiences had on them. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

How the Allies and their nonprofit organizations help each other grow

by Troy Hill, ASU Lodestar Center

June 4, 2019

As Donna Beedle watched members of the 13th Public Allies Arizona cohort share their Presentations on Impact last week – passionate stories of community work and personal growth – she reflected on the impact that the program has had on her own organization.

“You have these amazing young people come into your workplace and, wow, they have different ideas, they have different philosophies, they know great things,” said Beedle, manager of AZCEND’s Family Resource Center, of the 10-month program that places talented young people at nonprofit organizations. “It's been an overwhelmingly good experience.”

So good, in fact, that AZCEND has hosted at least one Ally for each of the past six years.

Public Allies is a national AmeriCorps apprenticeship program, launched in 1992 in Washington, D.C. The Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, within the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University's Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, brought the program to the greater Phoenix area in 2006. Public Allies Arizona’s 13th cohort of young leaders will graduate later this month.

On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, the Allies, nonprofit partners, family and friends convened on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus for Presentations on Impact, “our showcase event that highlights the wonderful work our Allies are engaging in – to create capacity on behalf of our Partner Organizations,” said Terry Marks, the director of Public Allies Arizona.

It was there, after Allies spoke of helping opportunity youth chart new paths, of training volunteers and overcoming shyness and of much more, that Beedle and her co-worker Yessica Munoz expressed how the nonprofits learn just as much from the Allies as the Allies learn from them.

Munoz, a Family Resource Center navigator who assists in supervising the Chandler FRC location and is herself a Public Allies alumna, said that the Ally at the Chander location has helped and changed the organization in numerous ways, from new partnerships that increase capacity to more engagement with new families.

“Seeing that growth, from when they stepped in to where it's at now has been really cool,” Munoz said.

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Iyamidé May spoke at the 2019 Presentations on Impact about her work with Experience Matters. Public Allies Arizona's 13th cohort graduates in June. Photo by Phil Bencomo/ASU Lodestar Center

Beedle said the Allies at AZCEND have taken on a large number of responsibilities and tasks, excelling and growing over the 10 months.

“What I see are people who come in, they're sort of self-doubting, they're sort of not very confident,” Beedle said. “By the end of their time with us, they're confident, they're bringing ideas, they have opinions… So there's that kind of like butterfly transformation with the Allies that I just love to see.”

Two Fridays a month, the Allies convene as a cohort for Community Space Days, returning to their organizations on Monday full of inspiration.

“They come back with these amazing stories about trainings that they've had, and things that they talked about and issues that they've discussed,” Beedle said. “It's easy to get stuck in a rut, and the Public Allies come with fresh perspectives and fresh ideas.”

Natasha Lopez-Rodriguez, the Financial Education Program Manager for the YWCA of Metropolitan Phoenix, said at the Presentations on Impact event that her Public Ally, Elsa, helped out their organization in numerous ways, including organizing and moving documents into the cloud, teaching classes, becoming a financial coach and more.

“She's been beyond an asset,” Lopez-Rodriguez said. “I think she’s taught us a lot … [and] I know she gained so much experience and I wish we would have had her for a longer period of time.”

Public Ally Anne Mbugua sits at a table with other people. She is pointing to papers in front of her and explaining as others listen.
Public Ally Anne Mbugua, center, was placed at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix. Here she works with Metro Tech High School seniors on vision boards, part of a work-readiness program. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Deborah Arteaga, the executive director of the Tempe Community Action Agency, said that her experience with Public Allies has been fantastic, both for the organization and the Allies.

“I think we learned a lot from each other,” Arteaga said. “They get hands-on experience with serving a disadvantaged community and meeting communities, and they further our capacity to serve more people and do greater things in our programs.”

Beedle said that AZCEND absolutely wants another Public Ally, which would be AZCEND’s ninth year this decade as a Partner Organization.

“We have two and we'll probably have two again,” Beedle said. “Given the opportunity, we at the program love it and benefit from it. And our CEO believes in the power that it has in building the community and creating networks of people that get things done.”

Next year, Public Allies Arizona plans to expand beyond Phoenix.

"As preparations are in progress for our 14th cohort, we are excited to announce expansion plans for Greater Tucson/Southern Arizona scheduled for early 2020," said Marks, offering organizations and young people in that part of the state the chance to enrich each other and grow together as well.