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Austin Wins Cities of Service Award

published on January 13, 2014

Austin homes Lake downtownAustin will receive its share of $1 million from Cities of Service for its volunteer-based programs to spruce up parts of town and enhance environmental protection. The funds will aid volunteers with four goals:

  • remove harmful invasive plants from 300 acres of public land
  • revitalize 40 city blocks by removing 800 pounds of litter
  • create community gardens
  • clear vacant lots

The Watershed Protection Department, the Mayor’s Office, City of Austin departments focused on land management, and local non-profits will work together and benefit from the award, which Austin won along with 22 other U.S. cities, for its historic ability to leverage volunteers.

“These grant funds will support the creation of volunteer guidelines and tracking protocols, the purchase of tools for tool lending programs and volunteer appreciation,” stated a City of Austin release.

The cities were selected for the quality of initiative proposals, the caliber of implementation plans, and the scale and potential for impact. Each city will use its funding to launch innovative program initiatives focused on community issues like health, sustainability, neighborhood revitalization, and education. For example, the City of Austin surveyed 10% of city-owned land to identify invasive plant species for removal to protect the local environment.

The grant-awarded cities (listed below) were selected from over 60 applicants for their proven ability to successfully target community needs, use best practices, and set clear, measurable outcomes to gauge progress. Grants ranged from $25,000 to $100,000.

Cities of Service was created in 2009 by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors and includes a bipartisan coalition of over 180 majors committed to addressing critical needs in their cities through impact volunteering. Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, its multi-million dollar Impact Volunteering Fund supports mayors who are addressing community problems through volunteerism.

“By channeling the willingness of citizens to help each other — and we all have something to give — local governments are finding new ways to improve the lives of their citizens,” said New York City Mayor and philanthropist Bloomberg. “The Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund accelerates this impact by supporting and spreading impact volunteering across the country.”

Other Cities of Service Award Recipients

Allentown, PA Mayor Ed Pawlowski will revitalize 50 city blocks by removing 7,500 pounds of litter, clearing illegal dumping areas, and removing graffiti

Atlanta, GA Mayor Kasim Reed will revitalize 50 city blocks by removing 25,000 pounds of litter, planting 250 trees and 2,000 flowers, and removing graffiti

Birmingham, AL Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. will revitalize 60 city blocks by removing 90,000 pounds of litter, planting 300 new trees, and removing 35,000 square feet of graffiti

Buffalo, NY Mayor Byron W. Brown will revitalize 40 vacant lots by removing 6,400 gallons of litter, cleaning graffiti, and planting greenery

Campton Hills, IL Mayor Patsy Smith will train and engage volunteers to help 3,800 households and businesses prepare for emergencies

Charleston, SC Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. will provide one-on-one volunteer tutoring services for 100 struggling Title I elementary school students to improve grade-level literacy skills

Fall River, MA Mayor William A. Flanagan will revitalize 25 city blocks by removing 60,000 pounds of trash and hundreds of square feet of graffiti

Flint, MI Mayor Dayne Walling will revitalize 40 city blocks and 200 parcels of land by removing two million pounds of litter, creating green spaces, and boarding up abandoned houses; and help 1,200 households prepare for emergencies

Hartford, CT Mayor Pedro E. Segarra will support 1,000 residents in filing tax returns while also helping them to open bank accounts and enroll in financial literacy courses

Hayward, CA Mayor Michael Sweeney will help 200 middle school youth improve their academic performance through homework tutoring in core subjects

Kalamazoo, MI Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell will launch three new literacy centers to help 150 adult learners improve their reading and job readiness skills

Kansas City, KS Mayor Mark R. Holland will increase access to healthy food by cultivating community gardens to grow 570 pounds of fresh produce while educating the community about healthy eating

Louisville, KY Mayor Greg Fischer will increase access to healthy food by supporting 13 community gardens and harvesting 1,000 pounds of fresh produce in target neighborhoods

Mesa, AZ Mayor Scott Smith will revitalize at least 12 communities by removing 10,000 pounds of waste, removing graffiti, and painting the home exteriors of residents in need

Milwaukee, WI Mayor Tom Barrett will improve 40 city-owned vacant properties by engaging young people to restore their neighborhoods through artistic board-ups

Nashville, TN Mayor Karl Dean will help 100 middle school students increase their reading skills and stay in school

Orlando, FL Mayor Buddy Dyer will help 175 struggling students improve their vocabulary and reading, train more than 2,000 citizens in Hands-Only CPR, and engage 700 youth in productive programming to increase career awareness and reduce crime

Philadelphia, PA Mayor Michael A. Nutter will provide emergency meals to 1,000 residents per week while connecting them to needed social services, and help the city meet its target of 70% waste diversion by helping city event-goers properly recycle

Richmond, CA Mayor Gayle McLaughlin will tutor 175 high school students to improve their writing skills and 150 elementary school students to improve literacy skills

San Jose, CA Mayor Chuck Reed will help 120 K-3 students increase their reading levels

Utica, NY Mayor Robert Palmieri will improve neighborhood pride and safety by removing graffiti from 75 sites and painting murals in graffiti hot spots

Washington, DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray will revitalize 25 city blocks by planting 430 trees, launching 20 new local park affinity groups, and creating community gardens

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