Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alumni Spotlight - Carson Henry

Carson Henry - Class of 2006 Alumnus
Carson Henry embodies Public Allies Delaware’s mission to advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits, and civic participation.  Carson graduated with the Public Allies Delaware class of 2006.  As an ally, he served his apprenticeship with Delaware Futures where he helped to strengthen their urban youth-focused college preparatory program.  Upon completing an exemplary year of service, Carson went on to obtain a Master of Public Administration at the University of Delaware.  He is currently employed as the Associate Executive Director of the YMCA of Metropolitan DC.  In this position, he oversees the operations of the YMCA’s social services branch.

Carson credits his experience as Public Ally for guiding him to his current position.  More specifically, Carson feels that "Public Allies Delaware not only identified what I was passionate about, but it taught me that its actually possible to smile everyday while heading to work. The program helped me to build a life, career, and network. I credit most of my success, the fact that I went to graduate school, my maturity, and the rapid advancement of my career to many valuable lessons that I learned while participating in the PADE program."

Following his experience as an Ally, Carson has remained highly involved in his community above and beyond his professional position.  For the past three years he has volunteered as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  He is also a mentor for the Raba Leadership Initiative.  Public Allies Delaware is proud to count Carson Henry as one of the 335 alumni of our program!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Make a Difference Day in the Life - Joe Prats

Ally Alex Nedd interviews a Hilltop resident.
On Make a Difference Day, our TSP team (Little Italy/Hilltop) had the opportunity to work with West Side Grows Together, a community organization connected to the Little Italy/Hilltop Blueprint Communities team. West Side Grows is working to unite all of the neighborhood/civic associations in the West Side and anyone else that wants to be a part of this revitalization initiative.  We were able to help survey all over the West Side of Wilmington; asking people how they liked the area, how safe they felt it was, what could be better, etc.  We were also handing out flyers for a big meeting they were going to have where everyone in the West Side could come and voice their concerns and opinions about community issues in the West Side.

We met that morning at the Get Ready, Jesus is Coming Church with West Side Grows volunteers and members of the community.  They gave us our instructions and some breakfast and we were on our way.  In order to cover all of the area, we split up into pairs and got a few blocks each.  Throughout the day there were a lot of doors unanswered or addresses that weren’t actually houses.  But take heart, we ended up getting 5 surveys total, just in our TSP group.  It felt like an accomplishment, seeing as West Side Grows Together only needed 15 more surveys to reach their goal.

Actually, getting surveys was not the only reason we felt like we did something good that day.  When people would answer their door and not take the survey, we still had that chance to give the flyers and introduce ourselves. We let them know we were Public Allies and began growing relationships in our TSP community.  We also got to know the neighborhood, walking around it all day.  To finish it off, we got free breakfast, lunch, and a coupon for an ice cream shop in the area. How could that ever make for a bad day?!

Joe Prats is an Ally serving in the current Class of 2012.  He is placed in the Delaware Girls Initiative.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Public Allies Delaware joins hands with Blueprint Communities

Team Service Projects (TSP) have long been one of the 3 major components of the Public Allies program. Over the last few years, we have been successful in developing a truly asset-focused TSP model, in which teams of Allies partner with local community groups and become catalysts for neighborhood-based leadership. Delaware Allies have already helped local community members to create a variety of innovative projects. You can see the WHYY video coverage that the West Side Grows community garden project received earlier this year right here. This year we are extremely excited that for the first time, we will be able to combine our TSP efforts with Blueprint Communities, another community-based initiative that is very near-and-dear to us!

As you may know, Public Allies Delaware (PADE) is housed in the University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service (CCRS). In 2008, CCRS partnered with the FHLBank of Pittsburgh to bring the Blueprint Communities initiative to Delaware.  Blueprint Communities is a "a revitalization and leadership initiative that serves as a catalyst for creating sustainable communities in our region." CCRS is currently working with 8 Blueprint Communities Teams in Delaware, each representing a local community, including the recent additions of the Wilmington neighborhood of Browntown and Georgetown in Sussex County. These teams are comprised of residents, bankers, and nonprofit leaders.  CCRS assists the teams through technical assistance, planning, coaching, and other resources.

This year we have produced a win-win formula. Late in the summer the Blueprint teams submitted project proposals. Each of our 4 Public Allies teams are now matched with a Blueprint team. The communities represented are: Edgemoor, Hilltop/Little Italy, Historic Overlook Colony and Vicinity, and Simonds Gardens. So, the Blueprint Community teams now have the added capacity that a team of highly-motivated, energetic Allies can bring to their community plans. The Allies now have a leg-up in that they are starting off their 10 months with a strong community cohort already in place and project proposals that represent a smaller piece of a larger community-sponsored plan. This past Friday, the Blueprint teams met the Ally teams for the first time and excitement was in the air...stay tuned for more to come!

The Blueprint Communities Delaware program is a joint initiative of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, the University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service, and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Core Training Complete - They're Hanging in There!

What a great way to cap off Core Training for the Class of 2012!  Yesterday was a warm but almost ideal day to spend swinging from a rope 30 feet in the air in Newark at the UD campus.  The "Adventure Challenge Experience" serves the purpose of developing strong team communication and challenging the individual Ally to achieve new heights (haha).  Dr. Roger Spacht led us through a days-worth of activities and ensured that our harnesses and helmets were fastened securely!

This is a challenge-by-choice activity.  Each year we have people who surprise themselves with what they are able to push themselves to do - for some that means making it all the way around the course and down the zip line, and for some it means overcoming their initial fear of heights on their way up the cargo net.

Do you have any words of advice for the Allies about how they can continue to challenge themselves over the next 9 1/2 months?  Also, please join us in wishing the Allies good luck at their first few days with their Partner Organizations!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Class of 2012 - Week One!

Here's our first group shot of the PADE Class of 2012 at the Community Service Building in Wilmington.  It's now day 2 and we're moving on from policies, procedures, and ground rules to Life Maps.  Life Maps are an opportunity for the new Allies to present the story of their life in 10 minutes.  They are asked to reflect on the most important people, places, and events in their lifes and share with the rest of the group how these things have made them the people they are today.

Do you remember your first life map experience?  What did you learn about yourself and others through the process?  Did it set the tone for your PA experience?  Please post a comment below!

Please follow our new blog at