This is an incredibly difficult time for all those who love Public Allies. The organization was operating in an untenable environment, the operating model was outdated, and it was unequivocally clear that a dramatic shift was necessary in order for the 30-year-old organization to survive and thrive. Still, it does not make the process of change any easier.
First and foremost, restructuring decisions were not made lightly and we have done everything possible to take care of our impacted staff. Severance packages above industry standard, as well as invitations to apply to the number of positions created by the new structure were provided to all. We recognize that there is no way to avoid the disruption and harm that comes with reorganizing a 30-year-old nonprofit, and members of our community are hurting right now.
We are saddened to see public, personal attacks on leadership, including those involving their spouse and children, and a host of false information being spread. In these difficult times, Public Allies believes in the power of recognizing impact, listening, repairing harm, and healing. We are creating several such opportunities and resources for anyone in our community who is impacted by and struggling with the changes. This includes not only impacted staff but also our current staff who are demonstrating exceptional grace amidst the pain, ensuring the organization is able to continue serving the current and future Allies who are depending on us.
To ensure transparency and clarity of information, we offer the following FAQ. Perhaps most important to call out is that we proactively reviewed all self-identifying demographic information provided by staff and ran an analysis to ensure BIPOC staff were not disproportionately impacted by the restructuring. Because Public Allies intentionally reflects the communities it serves – and 80% of us are BIPOC – a significant number of those impacted would, by nature, be BIPOC. But all information provided demonstrated that our percentage of self-identified BIPOC staff remained the same. We have also extended invitations to all of these team members to apply to move into newly added – and in many cases fully comparable – positions with the organization. In addition, we confirmed that our sites that serve the greatest number of BIPOC Allies are remaining open. Regarding how the decisions were made: an objective, 3rd party, Black woman-owned firm provided the restructure analysis. No names were provided to or known by the analyst. The highest performing sites were selected to remain open.
Under the new structure, Public Allies will now be able to significantly increase its impact. We will be able to serve many more Allies in many more places. We will be able to focus on issue areas, addressing the most critical obstacles to a just and equitable society. We will be able to do so much more to support the influence and advancement of our alumni and their careers. The changes, though difficult, will enable Public Allies to create a larger and lasting impact.
Public Allies Restructuring FAQ
Why did you restructure?
Every metric indicated that the current structure of Public Allies was no longer tenable. Unfortunately, the operating model was outdated, struggling to function, and inconsistent with the much more sustainable structure of our operating partner (franchise) model which has a proven history of viability. At the national office, operations were bottlenecked and, for years, sites were not receiving adequate support. To ensure the ability to continue to serve our mission, a change was necessary.
Under the new model, rather than our number of Allies served continuing to decline, we can add 2,100 allies across the country over three years to support and enhance capacity and service delivery at BIPOC-led, community-based organizations. And at the national office, the structure was adjusted to eliminate silos and duplication of efforts. This new structure will now allow for far greater support for sites as well as the building out of new programs, increasing and diversifying the ways in which we can have impact.
Was the restructure analysis that determined impacted positions provided by a values-aligned firm? How were decisions made?
Absolutely. A Black woman-owned firm committed to social and racial justice provided the analysis determining viability of sites and roles. No names were provided to or known by the analyst. The highest performing sites were selected to remain open.
Were BIPOC employees disproportionately impacted?
We proactively reviewed all self-identifying demographic information provided by staff and ran an analysis to ensure BIPOC staff were not disproportionately impacted by the restructuring. Because Public Allies intentionally reflects the communities it serves – and 80% of us are BIPOC – a significant number of those impacted would, by nature, be BIPOC. But all information provided demonstrated that our percentage of self-identified BIPOC staff remained the same. We have also extended invitations to all of these team members to apply to move into newly added – and in many cases fully comparable – positions with the organization. In addition, we confirmed that our sites that serve the greatest number of BIPOC Allies are remaining open.
Was information about the layoff provided to staff and were they notified verbally?
Yes. A general description with an explanation of the need for the restructure was provided via email to every staff member in the morning, and then each impacted PA staff member was notified verbally, in real time, in a meeting that was either private or included only their immediate site colleagues.
Are there plans to re-open sites that are currently being closed?
That is the hope! The redesign will create a stronger operational model and allow for better support of sites. Ultimately, this will allow us to successfully expand again in the future, which could include cities in which current sites have had to close.
What about the funding recently received?
Our racial equity fundraising campaign noted capacity and sustainability as core needs which funding would address. We are grateful for this support as it allows for the redesign to a new structure that will ensure Public Allies can thrive into the future, and deliver on all of the commitments made – which the prior structure could not.
How are you supporting Allies of closing sites?
All Allies that are currently serving in sites that are closing will be able to continue their service term uninterrupted. This means no interruption of pay, benefits, or educational award. All Allies will move to virtual cohorts and their terms will be maintained. Allies have been provided with a dedicated contact email (AllySupport@PublicAllies.org) to ensure they have the ability to ask questions and receive accurate information.
Is Public Allies still engaging with Alumni?
Absolutely! Alumni engagement not only remains a top priority, but has an unprecedented investment for the future. The restructure will help ensure that alumni engagement is much more consistent, impactful, and does more to serve and support the advancement of Alumni in their influence and careers.
Did the restructure impact the number of Alumni on staff?
The restructure was necessarily objective and looked at positions, not people. It’s unfortunate that this resulted in a number of alumni in impacted positions. However, the new structure includes new positions and we strongly encourage our alumni to apply to those roles. We will also be creating an alumni council to advise the national office in the meantime, ensuring the alumni voice and perspective remains central.
Will Public Allies continue its AmeriCorps program?
Absolutely – this restructure is not, by any means, an abandonment of our signature apprenticeship program. Rather, it is a refining to ensure that we can effectively support that program.