The City of Allentown is awarding mini-grants totaling $3,750 to five community organizations to beautify city blocks. Mayor Ed Pawlowski made the award announcement at a news conference this morning at McKinley Elementary School attended by representatives of the successful applicants.
This second round of funding comes from the $25,000 Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grant awarded to the city last December. Allentown was one of 23 cities receiving funding from more than 60 applicants. Nine neighborhood organizations received mini-grants this past April, including McKinley Elementary School which established a community garden.
Grants of $750 each were awarded to Old Allentown Preservation Association, West Park Civic Association, Community Action Development Committee, Hamilton District Main Street program and the Union and West End Cemetery Association.
The city’s goal is to utilize its base of volunteers and equip them with staff support and mini-grant dollars as they resolve identified neighborhood issues and replace the blight with beautification projects to be completed by October 31.
The “Love Our City” initiative engages individuals where they live, work and worship and provides a sense of ownership by having community organizations and residents take control of neighborhood issues. With its focus on Mayor Pawlowski’s goal to sustain the city’s commitment to safe, clean and vibrant neighborhoods, it complements the city’s existing SERVE Allentown service plan.
The program also expands on the mayor’s Quality of Life initiative, which he created in 2006 to address neighborhood and community quality of life challenges. The mayor’s office has continuously focused on engaging new groups in Allentown to emphasize social responsibility.
According to Pawlowski, “The grant initiative sustains neighborhood attractiveness, safety, and resident quality of life. It engages community group and neighborhood volunteers in low risk, high impact neighborhood improvement projects. The city is coordinating this initiative to revitalize and clean up neighborhoods one block at a time using volunteers who propose their own projects.”
Dozens of cities across the nation have adopted the Cities of Service model since its introduction in 2009. It focuses on impact volunteering – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear, measurable outcomes to gauge progress.
Grantee cities were selected based on the quality of initiative proposals, scale and potential for impact, and caliber of implementation plans, among other criteria. Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund initiatives address issues in the Cities of Service priority areas of education and youth, health, neighborhood revitalization, preparedness and safety, sustainability, and veterans. The program is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
About Cities of Service
Founded in September 2009 in New York City by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of over 180 mayors committed to addressing critical city needs through impact volunteering. 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 strategy by municipal governments. By leveraging citizen service strategies, Cities of Service helps mayors address local needs and make government more effective. To find out more about Cities of Service, visit our website at www.citiesofservice.org or follow us on Twitter @CitiesOfService.