Milwaukee-based Public Allies receives $10 million gift from MacKenzie Scott

Photo: Public Allies

Milwaukee-based Public Allies, a national nonprofit that prepares underrepresented young people for grassroots leadership, has received a $10 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett.

The gift is the largest in Public Allies’ history, the organization said in a press release.

The donation supports the organization’s effort to raise $75 million over the next three years through its Racial Equity Fundraising Campaign. To date, Public Allies has raised $16 million, thanks to the gift from Scott and Jewett and a lead investment from Citi Foundation.

Public Allies – which is headquartered at The CityCenter at 735 in downtown Milwaukee and has corporate offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York – operates its AmeriCorps leadership development apprenticeship program at 25 sites across 21 states. Participants complete a 10-month nonprofit apprenticeship program that includes working at community organizations and completing leadership training.

Its fundraising campaign has four priorities: developing a “pipeline of proximate leaders across the country,” catalyzing systems change through the “activation of a community-centered, equity-focused network of alumni and nonprofit partners,” building a DEI and anti-racist mindset across industries, and ensuring long-term sustainability and community impact.

“Over the next decade, the policies and systems we create and perpetuate will disproportionately shape the next century,” said Jaime Ernesto Uzeta, chief executive officer of Public Allies. “We must act quickly and decisively now to help our country emerge from this transformation without the structural racism that pervades virtually every aspect of America today and continues to hinder democracy and the economic growth and stability of our nation.”

The organization said its leadership program participants represent the communities that sit at the center of today’s economic, health and justice crises. Eighty percent identify as BIPOC; 70% serve in their home communities; 60% identify as women; 40% do not have college degrees, and 25% identify as LGBTQ+.

“An equitable future requires a fundamental rethinking of leadership,” says Jenise Terrell, vice president of programs. “This is the moment when leaders who understand how to build and wield collective power in service to the public good are most needed. Our Racial Equity Campaign will allow us to capitalize on our deep experience and powerful network of over 8,000 proximate leaders and creative problem solvers that will impact our country for generations to come.”

Other donors have included Ballmer Group, Fondation CHANEL, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, The Starbucks Foundation, United Airlines and William C. Graustein.

Public Allies is one of several Milwaukee-area nonprofits to receive support from Scott recently. As part of a charitable spree last year, Scott gifted $25 million to United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, $15 million to Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago and $5 million to United Way of Racine County. 

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