Empire State Fellow, Nonprofit Coordination Unit
New York State Division of the Budget
BRINGING A NONPROFIT PERSPECTIVE TO ALBANY
Fast fact: Tweet her @alliewein
Allison Weingarten is serving her fellowship in the state budget division unit that works on contracting, poverty reduction and developing a Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment program. After earning her master’s degree in social work at Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work, she became the program director of the Queens Community House’s after-school program, which she kept running despite severe financial challenges.
NYN: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD?
AW: I had this really cool job working under then-Assemblyman Rory Lancman. It was really fun, but actually most of the people I was meeting that I was really inspired by on the job were social workers. They weren’t caseworkers, and they weren’t in schools doing that really tough work with kids, which is so important, but they were advocates. That led me to want to go for my master’s in social work, which was not really something I had even known about before getting that job.
NYN: DESCRIBE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF.
AW: Working for this after-school program; before I came on board, they had lost funding and we were able to keep it open doing fee-based services. We happened to be in a closer-to-middle-class area, so there were some kids that really couldn’t afford it, but for the most part, these were working people who struggled to pay that tuition every month – that we also struggled to keep as low as possible. And we were able to keep it open through after-school, summer camp, always looking for scholarships and ways that we could get some free field trips, things like that, so that parents wouldn’t have to pay for it. Then the city put out a new RFP that I applied for with a team of coworkers and we got that funding. If it was up to me, every child would have a free, safe place to go if they needed it after school and in the summer. But I would say that my favorite accomplishment was almost bringing the staff vs. parents basketball team to a victory in one of our tournaments, but the parents did win. I just loved the kids and the families so much. It was hard to to leave and come to government, but I’m sharing what I know and hopefully that makes a difference.
NYN: WHAT CHANGE WOULD MOST HELP THE INDIVIDUALS YOUR ORGANIZATION SERVES?
AW: Especially right now with the whole Trump movement and the British exit, there’s just a lot of people that don’t understand what the other half goes through, or practically the other 80 percent goes through. If there were more of those stories, and if you knew how hard working parents work – single moms, single dads – there would be a lot more compassion and a lot more willingness to help your neighbor, even if your neighbor is on the other side of the tracks.