The best decisions are not made alone. They require gathering information, weighing options, and considering differing perspectives. Despite the necessity of physical distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, this is no less true today. 

The current public health crisis requires decision-making and problem solving in the midst of an extremely complex situation, and city leaders are learning from one another and relying on their networks in order to act quickly and effectively. Leaders are also trying to ground their response in equity, fairness, and justice, and consider the underlying public challenges that existed prior to this novel coronavirus. 

From stopping utility shut-offs and classifying grocery clerks as emergency workers, to establishing moratoriums on evictions and expanding services for people experiencing homelessness—cities around the country are taking steps to mitigate the immediate impact of COVID-19 on their residents and small businesses. 

We are working with our grantee cities to strategically redeploy Cities of Service resources.

In St. Louis, Missouri, Cities of Service AmeriCorps VISTA members are mapping businesses and community based organizations impacted by the novel coronavirus and helping to assess their needs. In Gary, Indiana, a portion of the funding originally designated for Love Your Block mini-grants will instead be used to fulfill emergency requests from vulnerable community members, particularly elderly residents, for cleaning products and other home goods. 

This tremendous response is made possible by the networks formed over years of effective engagement work and intentional relationship building. 

At Cities of Service, we have witnessed this type of immediate and effective response in the past. In 2017, when Hurricane Irma hit the city of Miami, the Chief Service Officer reached out for our support. Within days, Cities of Service hosted a conference call to connect the team in Miami with other members of our coalition that had deployed volunteers to assist in relief efforts after a disaster in their own communities. 

While millions of people are staying apart for the health and safety of their community, the connections we have built are more important than ever.

On April 7, we are virtually convening city staff and civic engagement leaders for a discussion on how city governments are addressing the immediate needs of vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please join us

We have also included a number of resources below, and we will continue to share promising strategies to help mayors, city staff, and our Cities of Service AmeriCorps VISTAs as they respond to the crisis and help communities recover. 

If you are interested in additional support or wish to share effective steps that your city has taken with others, please reach out to Nikola Pavelić, Director of Engagement and Programs, at

Cities of Service remains steadfast in our commitment to building stronger cities. We are here to help you navigate this crisis and ensure that leaders do not have to make these difficult decisions alone.

COVID-19 Response Webinar: Local Approaches to Serving Vulnerable Populations

Tuesday, April 7 from 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM EDT

Hear from front-line city staff and civic engagement leaders on how city governments are meeting the immediate needs of their communities, with a focus on especially vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Attendees are invited to ask additional questions and share their own city’s experiences in a moderated Q&A between panelists and participants.