t Cities of Service, we are always striving to improve the services we provide by bringing our coalition cities, experts in the field, and other stakeholders to the table. In my first few months as executive director, I have participated in many meetings with our coalition cities, community partners, and others to learn as much as I can about the great work the cities are doing, the challenges they may be having, and how we might better support them to have greater impact using volunteers to help solve their most pressing local challenges.
My team and I have listened hard and now we’re starting to move forward with some new programs and ideas. Last week, we had two fantastic meetings – one on each coast – that illustrate some of the exciting things we are working on together with our cities.
AmeriCorps Planning Grant
Having recently applied for and received an AmeriCorps Planning Grant from CaliforniaVolunteers (our FIRST AmeriCorps grant!), we gathered with representatives from Richmond, Hayward and Oakland, as well as Bay Area Community Resources.
The goal of the meeting was to begin to design a city hall-based AmeriCorps program that will place five to ten AmeriCorps members in mayors’ offices in selected California cities to support the mayors’ high-impact volunteering initiatives. We are working closely with the cities to understand specific needs and initiatives, and to get their recommendations to ensure that the program will address each city’s most pressing local challenges.
The session not only provided a forum for feedback on the proposed program but also allowed the cities to share best practices, gain insight on others’ initiatives, and form new connections across cities.
Cities of Service will travel to the Bay Area again this summer to continue to meet in-person with cities and partners to further develop this exciting new program! To learn more about it or to find out how to bring AmeriCorps members to your city, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Alice at 646-324-8402.
Love Your Block Metrics
One of the most important elements of the Cities of Service model is to make sure the volunteer initiatives that cities are implementing have real impact with tangible outcomes for the people and the cities they are serving. This isn’t always easy to do, but it’s crucial.
To enhance our impact-driven work, we are examining and strengthening the metrics for our Love Your Block blueprint. As part of this effort, we co-hosted a “Dream Meeting” in Baltimore with Campaign Consultation. We gathered more than 20 stakeholders, including mayors’ offices representatives, nonprofit partners, and community members from Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Flint, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C.
To help identify strong outcomes, we conducted a “New York Times Headline Activity” in which we asked participants to write a headline for 2016, imagining that they have completed their Love Your Block projects. Headline themes ranged from increasing employment to decreasing violent crime and community engagement. One of my favorites was “In the Reservoir Hill neighborhood, residents are no longer able to plant trees – the canopy is too full already”. We look forward to building on the progress made at this meeting by designing 3-4 Love Your Block outcome metrics that cities will be able to use when implementing their initiatives. We are excited to share these outcome metrics soon in a revised Love Your Block blueprint!
These meetings are just two examples among many of the great work that is happening in the Cites of Service network. We can’t wait to share more about these and other projects with you.
Yours in service,
Is your city part of the Cities of Service Coalition? Check out our coalition map!
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