Cities of Service Awards Nearly $1 Million to Help 18 Cities Implement High-Impact Volunteer Strategies

October 17, 2012

NEW YORKOct. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Cities of Service today announced the first round of Impact Volunteering Fund grants to 18 U.S. cities, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Grants from the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund will support mayors who are harnessing the power of volunteers to address priority problems in their communities. Grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 will support efforts in Atlanta, GAAustin, TXBaltimore, MDBirmingham, ALDuluth, MNFall River, MAFlint, MIIndianapolis, INKalamazoo, MILittle Rock, ARNashville, TNOrlando, FLPhiladelphia, PAPhoenix, AZPierre, SDPittsburgh, PAProvidence, RI; and Richmond, CA.

“As this program shows, mayors across the country are committed to using volunteers to tackle our biggest challenges,” said New York City Mayor and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg. “Following the success of this model in New York City and other cities across the country, Bloomberg Philanthropies is excited to support the proliferation of impact volunteering programs, which provide a significant opportunity for elected officials operating in a tight fiscal environment to mobilize citizens and make a measurable difference within their communities.”

The Cities of Service model focuses on “impact volunteering” – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress. Dozens of cities across the nation have adopted the model since its introduction in 2009, with over 60 mayors competing for this initial round of grants. A full list of Cities of Service coalition members and activities can be found at

Nearly $1 million is being granted through this initial round; an additional $1 million will be available in 2013. Grantee cities were selected based on the quality of their initiatives, potential for impact, and implementation plans, among other criteria. The following cities and projects will be supported with grants from the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund this year:

City, Mayor, and Volunteer Initiative(s)

— Atlanta Mayor Reed will educate and work with 6,500 households to increase recycling

— Austin Mayor Leffingwell will engage volunteers to remove harmful invasive plants

— Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake will raise attendance for more than 2,000 students across the city

— Birmingham Mayor Bell will engage 200 youth in exercise and healthy eating to combat obesity, and execute cleanups that reduce blight and crime by 30% in target areas

— Duluth Mayor Ness will increase access to healthy food in target neighborhoods by harvesting 1,700 pounds of produce from community gardens

— Fall River Mayor Flanagan will revitalize 17 neighborhoods by creating an urban tree farm and planting community gardens that grow 1,000 pounds of produce

— Flint Mayor Walling will revitalize 20 city blocks by removing 6,000 pounds of waste, reducing graffiti, and boarding up vacant properties

— Indianapolis Mayor Ballard will increase access to healthy food in target neighborhoods by harvesting 2,000 pounds of produce from community gardens

— Kalamazoo Mayor Hopewell will launch new literacy centers to help 300 adults improve reading skills

— Little Rock Mayor Stodola will combat childhood obesity by increasing consumption of healthy food and physical activity for 3,200 students

— Nashville Mayor Dean will increase energy efficiency by upgrading 50 homes in low-income neighborhoods

— Orlando Mayor Dyer will engage more than 400 youth in productive programming to reduce crime, and engage the families of 260 preschoolers in activities to increase early literacy

— Philadelphia Mayor Nutter will increase reading and digital skills among 450 adult learners, and conduct cleanups and paint murals in 10 neighborhoods to decrease crime and blight

— Phoenix Mayor Stanton will coat 70,000 sq. ft. of rooftops to reduce city carbon emissions by 60 metric tons, and plant community gardens to improve access to healthy foodfor 200 low-income families

— Pierre Mayor Gill will remove debris and replant over 600 trees to help the city recover from historic 2011 floods

— Pittsburgh Mayor Ravenstahl will coat 50,000 sq. ft. of rooftops to reduce city carbon emissions by 45 metric tons, and establish community gardens to provide 2,000 pounds of produce to 200 families

— Providence Mayor Taveras will provide year-round support to 50 English Language Learners to improve their reading levels

— Richmond (CA) Mayor McLaughlin will tutor 120 high school students to achieve writing proficiency

“Fundamental to the health and development of a city is embracing and effectively harnessing civic engagement and volunteerism to tackle pressing issues,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, who accepted the grant money on behalf of Philadelphia. “Being one of 18 recipients of the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund affords us the opportunity to mobilize our citizens to take on low literacy and neighborhood blight in a high-impact and measurable way. I continue to be impressed with the scale at which Bloomberg Philanthropies is helping mayors across the country implement this strategic approach to volunteerism.”

Details of the Impact Volunteering Fund

The Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund is a $2 million fund. Grant sizes range from $25,000, with the potential for a $5,000 bonus if impact goals are achieved, to $100,000. Larger amounts are reserved for cities that are funding Chief Service Officers and plan to conduct multiple initiatives. Initiatives can address any issues in the Cities of Service priority areas, which include education and youth, health, neighborhood revitalization, preparedness and safety, sustainability, and veterans. More information can be found at

Any mayor whose city is a member of the Cities of Service coalition will be eligible to apply on behalf of the city and its partners during the second round of funding that will be announced in 2013. For more information, contact Cities of Service at [email protected].

About Cities of Service

American cities face serious challenges and many mayors want to take advantage of every resource available to them – including the time and energy of public-spirited residents – to address those challenges. But in cities across America today, citizen service is often an underutilized or inefficiently utilized strategy by municipal governments. Founded in September 2009, Cities of Service supports mayors to leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective.

Media Contact for Cities of Service:
Ty Trippet
[email protected]