A large group turned out to celebrate Public Allies Delaware's 20 years of service to the community.

Public Allies

Public Allies marks 20 years of community impact, leadership advancement

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1:10 p.m., April 29, 2014--About 250 program alumni, community partners, funders and friends gathered to celebrate Public Allies Delaware’s 20 years of service and impact on Thursday, April 24, in Wilmington.

Since its founding, the nearly 400 alumni of Public Allies Delaware have completed more than 750,000 hours of service to communities in the state and beyond. The program is continuing to meet its mission of advancing new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation.

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The evening not only reunited friends and community partners of the program, it was also record breaking. With 110 Public Allies Delaware alumni in attendance – nearly 30 percent of its entire alumni base -- it was the largest national gathering of ally alumni in the history of the program.

Public Allies Delaware, an AmeriCorps program of the University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service (CCRS), places future leaders in nonprofit apprenticeships for a 10-month term of service, while also providing intensive leadership training and participation in neighborhood-based community development projects.

Addressing those in attendance George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, commended the CCRS program, which is part of the School of Public Policy and Administration.

Watson said he was attending the event in a dual role, not only as dean but also as a proud father. Watson’s daughter, Melissa Watson, a 2000 UD graduate who also received her master’s from the University in 2003, is an alumna of the Public Allies Delaware Class of 2001. 

About Public Allies Delaware

Public Allies Delaware began its journey when founders Suzanne Sysko, M.D., and Tony Allen, who holds a bachelor’s degree and doctorate from UD and is a member of the University Board of Trustees, decided to have an impact in the world and chose to start with their own community.

Allen and Sysko reflected that they “were a part of a burgeoning national movement called the Corporation for National Service,” also known as AmeriCorps. This bipartisan concept has produced many programs including Public Allies. Delaware was one of five original sites including one in Chicago, which was founded by First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Twenty years later the celebration was not only a tribute to what has been accomplished in the past two decades, but also a launch of the program’s new impact strategy.

Public Allies Delaware Director Tina Morrow said she is proud of the program’s past success but is more motivated by what is driving its future. “Our newest efforts entail expansion into West Center City Wilmington, piloting civic engagement training through a corporate neighbors program and broadening leadership development,” she said.

This new approach will reach residents who are not currently able to participate in the signature Public Allies apprenticeship program. The new strategy will include additional recruitment from West Center City, ally service projects focused on the needs of the neighborhood and involvement by all residents including businesses, nonprofits, and other community members.

In addition to Thursday’s celebration, Public Allies Delaware also commemorated its new impact strategy by partnering with the city of Wilmington Project Day, Interfaith Housing, and the West Center City community on Saturday, April 26. Councilman Nnamdi Chukuocha, of the Public Allies Delaware Class of 1997, announced the program’s formal partnership with West Center City’s community revitalization efforts.

Many Public Allies alumni are also UD graduates, and many have gone on to lead nonprofits in Delaware and around the nation.

Photos by Doug Baker

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