Large social movements that are powered by the people require one constant:  leadership. At Public Allies, we see in our current class of AmeriCorps Allies a powerful, almost unstoppable drive to practice leadership. But not just any kind of leadership. Allies are committed to practicing a core set of values and have a clear aim of bringing about a just and equitable society. It's the kind of leadership we want and need in our communities -- and the kind exemplified by the remarkable people in the stories below. If you know a potential Ally or an organization interested in partnering with Public Allies, we are recruiting a new class and partners at our  23 sites nationwide. Working together, we can make it real.
After Army, a young mother finds inspiration as an Ally and in volunteering for her country with other veterans
When Ingrid Hachmeister signed up for the Army fresh out of high school, she scored so high on the military's aptitude test that the recruiter told her point-blank: "You can do anything you want. Your options are wide open." Ingrid, now an AmeriCorps Ally serving in Central Florida, chose to train for one of the military's most dangerous jobs: explosive ordnance technician, the same work featured in the movie "The Hurt Locker." Ingrid's military trajectory didn't go as she'd hoped. Yet her journey as a a professional, a woman, a veteran, and a mother has brought her to Public Allies, where's she bringing her skills to the table, while also learning how collaboration can make the world a more just place.  Read full story
Inspired by family tale of survival, Los Angeles Ally commits to fight for marginalized peoples 
Sophanarot Sam wasn't yet born the day the Cambodian genocide began. But she knows what happened because her grandmother was one of the millions of people who in 1975 were displaced from their homes at gun-point and forced into slave labor on Pol Pot's infamous "killing fields." Her family's tale of survival taught her many valuable lessons, and today this AmeriCorps Ally serving in Los Angeles is committed to using her knowledge, experience, and passion to advocate on behalf of all people who are marginalized by systemic injustices.  Read story
Arizona Ally: Art creates the justice we need and want
"When people paint murals of the change they want to see, then the people are going to believe it." That's a foundational idea underpinning the murals of Francisco "Enuf" Garcia, an AmeriCorps Ally at Public Allies Arizona who was just awarded the City of Phoenix's Dr. Eugene Grigsby Visual Artist award. For a decade, he's produced a steady stream of socially conscious, visually stunning public art in Arizona and Los Angeles that's inspired by earlier generations of social movements and art. "My hope is to see more murals," he says. "Not just graffiti, but murals with messages that bring people together. I want to see people paint for change."  Read full story
Inspired by sense of solidarity, an Ally helps spark national drive to collect water for Flint residents
Almost as soon as a state of emergency was declared in Michigan and the National Guard began distributing filters and bottled-water to the residents of Flint, second-year Cincinnati Ally Victoria Mullins sprang into action. She helped organize one of the nation's first water drives conceived and powered completely by citizen-leaders.  "I wanted to help because I would want someone to help me if I needed clean water to drink," says Victoria, whose actions were featured by Cincinnati's WCPO-TV. Besides a deep sense of solidarity, Victoria is also driven by a strong commitment for justice and equity."I felt like water was something that people just couldn't do without."   Read and watch the news story
Public Allies Chicago "peace circles" bring together residents and some police to begin rebuilding trust
Outside the temperature hovered around 0 degrees, but inside Chicago's South Shore Cultural Center, 140 people -- including about a dozen police officers -- gathered Jan. 18 to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event was the fruit of a collaboration between different groups, including Public Allies Chicago, that allowed attendees to have difficult conversations about policing, public safety, and community mistrust in a confidential and safe environment.   Read more
Public Allies Washington, DC's director honored by Georgetown University for her success in building leaders
"I really think sometimes people don't think about their ability to impact and build others up," says Nakeisha Neal Jones, since 2010 the executive director of Public Allies Washington, DC. "We have opportunities to say things and serve people in ways that will build them up, and I hope we choose to build up more than we tear down." On January 18 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Nakeisha was presented with Georgetown University's 2016 John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award -- an honor for her success in creating real outcomes for a new generation of diverse leaders and partners. Nakeisha was given the honor by Georgetown President John J. DeGioia and former basketball coach John Thompson (pictured) after whom the award is named. In accepting the award, Nakeisha stressed the importance of Public Allies' unique approach to building a movement. " We believe that the leadership needed to improve communities is already present within communities."   Read story and watch video
Chicago Alum Mark Payne: We want people to thrive 
Soon after Ceasefire Illinois deploys its workers into communities experiencing spikes in violence, that violence tends to fall by about half, says Mark Payne, the organization's executive director who was one of 16 leaders selected by The Annie E. Casey Foundation for its Children and Family Fellowship. Mark graduated from Public Allies Chicago in 1997, and since then has dedicated his life to the slow and vital work of building partnerships at the grassroots level for the public good. He was recently with DePaul's Egan Urban Center training community organizations and Chicago Police Department officers to change the way community policing works. While Mark says statistics are important, there is something more important. "We want safe communities," says Mark, a lifelong Chicago resident. "Numbers are very important, but we want to make safe communities. We want people to thrive."
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s full dream
This year, our network of 23 sites took advantage of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service as a way to transform Dr. King's life and teachings into community service that helps empower and strengthen local communities. In New York we hosted a Youth Leadership Conference with hundreds of attendees. In Los Angeles we hosted a day-long Cultivating Consciousness Conference. In the Bay Area our Allies partnered to plant trees around an elementary school in Oakland. And in Pittsburgh, our Allies helped collect community stories in nearby Wilkinsburg to preserve local history and highlight residents' priorities.
AmeriCorps Week honors the passion of those who serve
"When engaged individuals imagine our world as it could be and come together to create lasting change, extraordinary things are possible." That's how President Barack Obama opened his letter honoring the service of thousands of AmeriCorps members who are participating in AmeriCorps Week, March 5-12. Public Allies is proud to be one of the founding partners of AmeriCorps. Together we continue to help create lasting change for individuals, organizations, and communities.
The 1 degree of Kevin Bacon: Public Allies Connecticut
Actor Kevin Bacon took time recently in Hartford to seek out grassroots change-makers and bring attention to the important work they do for communities. While at the Billings Forge Community Works Kitchen, Kevin ate lunch with four AmeriCorps Allies -- Cassie Therriault, Isaiah Jacobs, Joe Condren, and Kerry Mattson -- all of whom are placed with our longtime partner organization, UConn Husky Sport. They discussed their service in Hartford's North End, including what it's like working inside public schools, and the difficulty some families have in accessing quality food because of where they live.  Read more here