Public Allies: A Career Path to Public Service

May 03, 2016
Public Allies
Public Ally Chloe Amitin (right) at the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati

Public Allies is a unique professional development program based on the core values of diversity and inclusion, collaboration, continuous learning, integrity, and building on assets. The program that partners with AmeriCorps to give more than 600 diverse individuals nationally an opportunity to be placed at a local nonprofit organization and participate in a full-time, paid apprenticeship for 10 months. Public Allies attend regular skill-building and leadership development sessions within their local cohort, and receive life and professional development coaching as well. Some of the benefits of the fellowship include a monthly stipend, access to health care and child care, student loan deferment, and a post-program education award that can be used toward student loans or future education.

To learn more about Public Allies, we interviewed Chloe Amitin, a native of Cincinnati who chose to stay in her hometown after completing college to serve her community. As a Public Ally at the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati, she provides customers with emergency assistance such as food, clothing, and help obtaining birth certificates to help clients achieve more stability. In her second year as a Fellow, she has collected data on the services she has provided and the impact it has had on her customers.

1. What inspired you to apply for Public Allies?

When I was near the end of my undergraduate studies, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. I was currently an intern at the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, a nonprofit that organizes low-wage and immigrant workers to achieve positive systemic change. A lawyer who volunteered his time with the organization spotted me in a coffee shop one day and asked me what my plans were after graduation. I told him that I really didn’t know what I wanted to do and he told me about Public Allies, a local AmeriCorps program that he thought I would be a great fit for. I found out that Public Allies was a ten-month apprenticeship program that specialized in leadership and diversity training. I knew that I had a passion for social justice and dreamed of starting my career in a local nonprofit. I hoped that Public Allies would mold me into the leader that I always wanted to be but didn’t quite know how to achieve.

Public Allies Cincinnati

2. What is a typical week like for a Public Ally?

For a Public Ally, Monday through Thursday is spent working at their placement, a local nonprofit. On Fridays, Allies participate in trainings and meet with members of their respective team service project.  Each Ally has specific objectives and job duties attached to their placement. Placed at the Freestore Foodbank, it has been my job to provide direct services such as food, clothing, and bus passes to customers for employment. I have also worked on special projects including a coat drive for the past two years and an employment program informational for customers of the Freestore. As a second year fellow, I and another fellow have facilitated our own team service project of eight first-year Allies. We have guided them through every stage of their project, mentoring them along the way.

3. What tips would you give others applying to Public Allies?

When applying for Public Allies, you have to be patient and open minded. The application process is extensive and trying. The first step is submitting your application followed by a group and one-on-one interview. Allies then are invited to a matching fair where participating nonprofits present on their agency and what they are looking for in an Ally. Allies then select their top choices and are matched with four organizations for interviews. About a month after interviews conclude, Allies will find out if they have been accepted into the program and where their placement is.

What I love about Public Allies is that they don’t just want the recent college graduate to be in their program; Public Allies intentionally recruits a diverse class of Allies from all walks of life. I think that Public Allies accepted me because they saw something in me that I didn’t see. They saw my potential as a leader and knew that I would greatly benefit from the program.

Chloe Amitin is a second year Public Ally Fellow placed at the Freestore Foodbank. Chloe attended college at Thomas More where she received Bachelors in Sociology before becoming an AmeriCorps member. After Public Allies, Chloe plans to continue working in the social work field and pursuing her Master’s of Social Work.

© Victoria Johnson 2016, all rights reserved.