This summer NCG was thrilled to welcome Allegra Maeso as our first summer intern. A rising senior at Northwestern University and Bay Area native, Allegra dove into a number of policy projects, providing valuable research and analysis on critical issues impacting Northern California communities. Although she was only with us for ten weeks, Allegra definitely left her mark and will always be part of the NCG family. Below is our interview with Allegra about her summer experience at NCG.
What brought you to NCG?
I had originally reached out because I was interested in the work of the California Criminal Justice Funders Group, a collaborative of NCG. To my pleasant surprise, Cecilia responded explaining they wanted to start an intern program. What made me excited to work at NCG was the opportunity to get to know the Bay Area within a philanthropic and policy lens. However, their eagerness to create a position where I could identify and analyze key issues regarding criminal justice reform efforts in California is ultimately what I look back on with the most appreciation and fondness.
As our summer intern, what was your role?
As the summer policy intern, my role was to research legislative bills and to propose recommendations regarding NCG’s resources and involvement within each area. Specifically, I synthesized information about affordable housing, criminal justice reform, and Opportunity Zones in memos and a presentation. I was able to recommend bills based on their alignment with NCG’s mission, traction, and support by our members/stakeholders.
What's your take on opportunity zones? Do you see a role for philanthropy in addressing them?
Opportunity Zones proved to be a large area of untapped potential for philanthropic action. Through my research, I am confident that organizations such as NCG can act as liaisons between communities and investors. Nonprofits and foundations alike have the power to ensure that Opportunity Zones benefit communities if they have a seat at the table and are able to prioritize projects and communicate with investors. In order to amplify community’s priorities, foundations can create their own Opportunity Funds and non-profits can make prospectuses.
After being thrown into philanthropy for the summer, where do you see the most potential?
Philanthropy’s potential lies within public policy. When legislative decisions in the interest of communities are properly advocated for, tangible change transpires. Philanthropy can take a more proactive role in tracking, analyzing, and advocating for initiatives that are actually beneficial to the community. The policy work that Cecilia is leading illuminated this major opportunity for philanthropy to lift up communities.
What was your most memorable experience at NCG?
My most memorable experience at NCG was being able to share my research on Opportunity Zones to the NCG staff. At the end of several months, I had the opportunity to teach the staff through a presentation highlighting how Opportunity Zones work, some main concerns, and how nonprofits can get involved. During the presentation, my audience was attentive, supportive, and inquisitive which made me feel like a valuable member of NCG. This presentation meant a lot to me because of its potential long-term impact on future NCG programming.
What's your favorite on-screen guilty pleasure?
Law and Order SVU. I watch it every night!
What talent or superpower would you most like to have? Why?
To fly. I love to travel so having the power to fly would allow me to go to so many more places.