Cities of Service is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to help mayors and other city leaders tap the knowledge, creativity, and service of their citizens to solve public problems and create vibrant cities.
They work with cities to build city-led, citizen-powered initiatives that target specific needs, achieve long-term and measurable outcomes, improve the quality of life for residents, and build stronger cities.
On July 16, 2018 Cities of Service announced 10 U.S. cities as winners of its Cities of Service City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Love Your Block competition.
Love Your Block enables local governments to engage communities in neighborhood revitalization efforts benefiting low-income communities.
Each winning city will receive $25,000 to be used for mini-grants and resources to support citizen groups’ and local nonprofits’ efforts to prevent or eliminate property blight through home repairs, lot transformations, and community clean-ups. In addition, two AmeriCorps VISTA members will serve in each winning city’s city hall to build capacity and raise awareness.
This year’s Love Your Block competition was specifically targeted to legacy cities – older, industrial cities that have faced substantial population loss. The winning cities were selected based on potential for impact and clarity of vision for their proposed projects. They are:
- Buffalo, New York
- Gary, Indiana
- Hamilton, Ohio
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Huntington, West Virginia
- Lancaster, Pennsylvania
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Newark, New Jersey
- Richmond, Virginia
- South Bend, Indiana
“A recent study from the Urban Institute has shown us that the impact of Love Your Block goes beyond cleaning up neighborhoods and creating more park space,” said Cities of Service Executive Director Myung J. Lee. “It is also bringing neighbors together and strengthening communities. We are excited to help our cities revitalize neighborhoods, keep people in their homes, and build trust between cities and their people as part of these efforts.”
The Urban Institute study found that the connection that Love Your Block forges between city leaders and citizens at the neighborhood level can be one of the most important catalysts for collective action by neighborhood residents. This connection between city officials and citizens boosts the social capital exercised by citizens who plan and implement Love Your Block projects and strengthens social cohesion. Love Your Block volunteers believe their efforts also positively influence public safety and community ownership of public spaces.
Since 2009, Cities of Service has helped dozens of cities implement Love Your Block. More than 10,000 volunteers have been engaged to remove over 480,000 pounds of trash, clean up nearly 600 lots, and create more than 180 art displays, in addition to numerous other community projects.
Using the Cities of Service Love Your Block blueprint, city leaders will engage citizen volunteers and local nonprofits in co-creating solutions to urban blight. Cities of Service will provide expert technical assistance to winning cities for two years. Cities of Service City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Love Your Block is made possible with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
Founded in 2009 by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cities of Service supports a coalition of more than 250 cities, representing more than 73 million people across the Americas and Europe.
Photo of Richmond, Virginia by Storm Cunningham,