Nashville, Tennessee Wins National Cities Of Service Contest With Plan To Preserve Waterways And Mitigate Storm-related Pollution By Promoting Green Growth

December 17, 2014

Albuquerque, NM; Orlando, Fla., and Philadelphia Also Recognized for Successful Programs Supporting Families, Academic Success, and Sustainability Respectively.

NEW YORK – Cities of Service Executive Director Myung J. Lee today announced the winners of the Cities of Service blueprint competition. Nashville, Tenn., under Mayor Karl Dean, was selected the grand prize winner for its strategy to protect the city’s vast number of waterways from storm runoff and related damage through citywide coordinated restoration and resilience projects achieved with community partners and volunteers. Other cities recognized for successful programs that can be replicated elsewhere include Albuquerque, NM; Orlando, Fla., and Philadelphia. The winners were selected from 30 submissions earlier this year which proposed tested volunteer-based solutions to city problems. Cities of Service is a national nonprofit that supports mayors to leverage citizen service as a tool to drive public sector innovation and achieve measurable impact on pressing local challenges. Its coalition includes 201 cities in the United States and United Kingdom.

As the grand-prize winner, Nashville will receive $35,000. First runner up Albuquerque, New Mexico will receive $12,000, and Orlando, Fla. and Philadelphia will each receive $5,000. Participating cities each submitted Cities of Service blueprints – comprehensive, customizable, high-impact strategies that outline the necessary steps to bring a service initiative to life and ensure its success. The four winning cities’ blueprints will be published and promoted to enable other cities to share in these successful strategies. Further detail about the winning blueprints appears below and online. Cities of Service coalition members receive technical assistance and other support to bring these and other blueprints to life in their cities.

“At Cities of Service, we know that the best ideas come from the field – where mayors are leveraging the power of citizen volunteers to make a difference in collaborative, innovative ways,” said Myung J. Lee, Cities of Service Executive Director. “With the Cities of Service Blueprint Contest, we tapped into the best impact volunteering work going on in the field, and can now share those best practices with a much wider audience, significantly increasing the potential for impact.”

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said: “This award is recognition of our residents’ commitment to improving Nashville. Storm Busters can be modeled by municipalities that want to make their city stronger and more resilient to weather-related events. I appreciate that Cities of Service recognizes the value of the city’s collaboration with community partners and volunteers, which will only continue to grow. We are honored to be the recipients of the Blueprint award and look forward to implementing our plan with the support of Cities of Service.”

Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry said: “Homework Diner has proven so successful at helping families and engaging students that we are expanding the program to nine additional schools this year. We are thrilled to be recipients of a Cities of Service Blueprint Contest award.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said: “Path Finders is one of many programs in which our business and community leaders are serving as citizen volunteers and helping our youth find their way to future careers. I’m honored by Cities of Service’s recognition of the city’s collaboration with our citizens who volunteer and use their time and talents to help us solve community challenges and make Orlando a better and brighter place for everyone.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter said: “Waste Watchers is a great example of what a dedicated, civic-minded national service team with a strong plan can accomplish to make a meaningful difference for Philadelphia. I want to thank Cities of Service andCatherine Wolfgang, our Chief Service Officer, and the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service for all they do to make this program possible.”

Winning Cities

Nashville, Tenn: After torrential rains caused unprecedented river cresting and flooding with fatal results in May 2010, the City of Nashville brought together multiple agencies, volunteers, and local conservation organizations. Their efforts resulted in the mitigation of more than 2.5 million gallons of storm water, planting more than 7,300 trees and installation of 60 rain gardens across the city. In addition, thousands of volunteers have assessed more than 200 miles of waterways and cleaned 30 miles of waterways, removing 294 tons of trash and debris to date. Nashville citizen volunteers continue to green the city to create a more resilient infrastructure. These achievements led to the development of Storm Busters, a high-impact service strategy in which the mayor’s office engages volunteers to help mitigate damage from storm water runoff and improve the health of the city’s surrounding waterways by planting trees and rain gardens, cleaning waterways, and restoring river and stream banks.

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Through Mayor Richard J. Berry’s Homework Diner initiative, students accompanied by their parents/caregivers gather at a public school one evening a week to receive tutoring and homework assistance. Upon completion of the homework session, volunteers serve a meal to participants, prepared by culinary students with food that is donated through a partnership with a local food bank to minimize program costs. In the first year of the program, teachers reported an increase in homework completed and 95% reported an increase in academic performance of participating students in the classroom.

Orlando, FloridaPath Finders is a six-week afterschool program through which Mayor Buddy Dyer’s office engages volunteers from local businesses to coach middle school students in academic and career planning. Student participants also receive mentoring and engage in guided self-exploration and Junior Achievement curriculum. Among participating students, outcomes have included no reported incidences of juvenile crime, improved grades and better school attendance. Eighty-eight percent of students reported increased desire to graduate from high school.

Philadelphia: Through Mayor Michael Nutter’s Waste Watchers sustainability initiative, the city recruited and trained more than 1,000 volunteers to help attendees and spectators at major public events separate waste into trash, recycling, and compost receptacles.Waste Watchers achieved an 87.5% waste diversion rate at the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon, which subsequently received a Gold Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport in the following years. Because of its success, Waste Watchers is now a part of four additional major events in the city.

Among other resources provided by Cities of Service, blueprints offer necessary steps for cities to effectively partner with nonprofit and community-based organizations, leveraging citizen volunteers to measurably improve local life. Cities of Service blueprints can be adapted by cities to address their challenges, and each prioritizes volunteers and producing measurable impact – versus just numbers of participants.

About Cities of Service

Cities of Service is a national nonprofit that supports mayors and city executives to design and implement high-impact service strategies that can be replicated in cities worldwide. It provides technical assistance, programmatic support, planning resources, and funding opportunities. Founded by Michael R. Bloomberg in 2009, Cities of Service currently supports a coalition of 201 cities in the U.S. and UK whose mayors are committed to engaging citizen volunteers to solve local pressing challenges, from increasing high school graduation rates to improving energy efficiency in buildings. Cities of Service helps coalition cities share solutions, best practices, and lessons learned, as well as spreads awareness about the great work happening in cities. Learn how to get involved at, and follow @citiesofservice on Twitter.

Karen Dahl
(646) 324-8397