Allentown Awarded Cities of Service Grant
After receiving a record-number of applications, Cities of Service has announced that it has awarded $25,000 to the City of Allentown to implement a service initiative designed to address neighborhood revitalization. Allentown is one of 23 U.S. cities to win a Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grant, which supports mayors who are implementing “impact volunteering” strategies that tackle pressing local challenges.
The $25,000 grant will be used to launch the “Love Our City” initiative to revitalize city blocks by properly disposing of tons of litter, clearing illegal dumping areas and removing graffiti. 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.
The “Love Our City” initiative engages individuals where they live, work and worship and provides a sense of ownership by having residents take control of neighborhood issues. With its focus on Mayor Ed 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 Pawlowski’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. City Council recently passed a Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance, which provides for more rigorous enforcement of quality of life violations such as littering, littered properties, illegal dumping and acts of graffiti vandalism.
According to Pawlowski, “This ‘Love Our City’ program builds on our Quality of Life initiative, my neighborhood walks, the Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance and the Allentown Police Department’s community policing strategy all of which encourage proactive public nuisance abatement. The grant initiative proposes to increase resident participation as a way to sustain neighborhood attractiveness, safety, and resident quality of life by engaging volunteer residents in low risk, high impact neighborhood improvement projects.”
“Using volunteers, youth and adults, from faith based groups, community groups as well as interested individuals, the city will coordinate this initiative to revitalize and clean up neighborhoods one block at a time, said Pawlowski. “Faith based leaders, neighborhood watch groups, and community organizations will be asked to assist the city in identifying blight in their neighborhoods and recruiting volunteers to eradicate blight where they live, work and worship.”
Addressing these challenges fulfills impact initiative elements in SERVE Allentown’s service plan which was designed to engage citizens to work to strengthen their community.
The Cities of Service model focuses on impact volunteering – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear, measurable outcomes to gauge progress. Dozens of cities across the nation have adopted the model since its introduction in 2009.
More than 60 mayors applied for Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grants to support the implementation of nearly 90 initiatives. Grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 also will support efforts in Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Birmingham, AL; Buffalo, NY; Campton Hills, IL; Charleston, SC; Fall River, MA; Flint, MI; Hartford, CT; Hayward, CA; Kalamazoo, MI; Kansas City, KS; Louisville, KY; Mesa, AZ; Milwaukee, WI; Nashville, TN; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Richmond, CA; San Jose, CA; Utica, NY; and Washington, DC.
Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund is a multi-million dollar fund. Nearly $1 million was awarded through the first round of grants in October 2012, with an additional $1 million awarded through this second round. 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.
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.
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