Cities of Service Announces New Funding Opportunity for Cities to Engage Citizens to Dramatically Reduce Blight in Their Communities

October 13, 2014

Cities of Service City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Program to help mayors engage citizen volunteers and organizations to build and implement sustainable, high-impact plans to eliminate blight in affected neighborhoods.

NEW YORK — The Cities of Service City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Program is a competitive grant opportunity available to mayors that supports implementation of neighborhood revitalization initiatives based on Love Your Block, one of Cities of Service’s most tested and popular blueprints. Cities of Service will provide both financial and human capital support to six cities for up to three years, including a $30,000 grant and two City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA members to support the planning and implementation of Love Your Block initiatives in low-income neighborhoods.

The planning portion of the grant will support a six-month process that engages key community stakeholders to identify (1) the health and safety needs of the community, (2) best practices and strategies for addressing these needs using the Love Your Block blueprint, and (3) impact metrics to measure the success of the initiative. The implementation portion of the grant will provide the resources necessary to carry out Love Your Block, including mini-grants to support volunteer activities and testing of the strategies developed during the planning process. As part of this process, the AmeriCorps VISTA members will help mayors build capacity, engage community members, and develop plans to sustain and scale best practices.

To date, 19 cities across the country have successfully implemented Love Your Block. In this impact volunteering initiative, cities provide mini-grants to local neighborhood groups, block associations, and community-based organizations to carry out revitalization projects in target areas. For example, in the first year of Flint, Michigan’s Love Your Block initiative, volunteers got rid of 1.8 million pounds of waste, removed 4,500 square feet of graffiti, cleaned up 122 abandoned properties, and created 57 green spaces. In Birmingham, Alabama, volunteers cleaned more than 26,000 square feet of graffiti, disposed of more than 70,000 pounds of trash and debris, and planted more than 500 trees. In addition, the mayor’s office leveraged 25 new sources of private sector funding to help revitalize neighborhoods.

“With this new grant opportunity, Cities of Service is taking Love Your Block to the next level, with the goals of achieving even deeper impact in cities and finding out what it really means to love your block,” said Cities of Service executive director Myung Lee. “Our goal with the Cities of Service City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Program is to harness the combined power of collaboration in planning and implementation along with strong measurement and analysis to propel Love Your Block to make deeper change for more communities on a much larger scale.”

Throughout this program, Cities of Service will provide significant hands-on support and technical assistance to the six winning cities. Together, the winning cities and Cities of Service will showcase the significant impact that engaged community residents who “love their blocks” can have.

To ensure broader participation, the City Hall AmeriCorps VISTAs will engage neighborhood groups, churches, community boards, city council, libraries, local officials, and others. As part of this process, AmeriCorps VISTAs will identify and remove barriers to engagement throughout the planning and implementation phases. Additionally, they will build capacity for Love Your Block by coordinating the planning process and stakeholder engagement, developing the infrastructure for the initiative, expanding partnerships with local neighborhood associations and community-based organizations, coordinating training and workshops for mini-grant applicants, and ensuring the sustainability of the initiative.

For more information and to apply:

Love Your Block Blueprint:

Cities of Service is a national nonprofit that supports mayors to design and implement high-impact service strategies that can be replicated in cities worldwide. We provide technical assistance, programmatic support, planning resources, and funding opportunities. Founded by Michael R. Bloomberg, Cities of Service supports a coalition of approximately 200 cities whose mayors are committed to using citizen volunteers to solve local pressing challenges, from increasing high school graduation rates to improving energy efficiency in buildings. We help coalition cities share solutions, best practices, and lessons learned, as well as spread awareness about their great work. Join us at or on Twitter @citiesofservice.

Karen Dahl
[email protected]
(646) 324-8397