Cities of Service announced that it has awarded the City of Orlando a $100,000 grant to expand implementation of ORLANDO CARES, a service initiative designed to address youth crime prevention and education. In September 2010, Orlando was one of 20 cities nationally awarded a $200,000 Cities of Service Leadership Grant and launched Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Cities of Service Initiative: ORLANDO CARES. Orlando is one of 18 U.S. cities to be awarded this second round of funding to support mayors who are harnessing the power of volunteers in a strategic way to address priority problems in their communities.
“To date, the City has engaged more than 600 residents in ORLANDO CARES programs that have helped our youth improve their academic success, increase their literacy skills, plan viable career choices and avoid the juvenile justice system,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “This Cities of Service grant will allow us to expand our ORLANDO CARES program and work together with even more residents to address our community’s needs and make Orlando a better place for everyone to live, work and play.”
The Cities of Service model focuses on “impact volunteering” – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress. Dozens of cities across the nation have adopted the model since its introduction in 2009. Using this approach, New York City has coated more than 4 million square feet of rooftops to reduce carbon emissions by 745 metric tons, Nashville has upgraded more than 240 homes to increase energy efficiency and help the city recover from historic floods, and Pittsburgh has removed 20,000 pounds of litter to revitalize its neighborhoods.
Orlando’s $100,000 grant will go toward expanding several ORLANDO CARES initiatives that support youth crime prevention and enhance education including The Garden, Path Finders and Preschool Ambassadors. The Garden, a partnership with Orange County 4H, is an after-school program for inner city and at-risk youth where students grow their own container vegetable and herb gardens, learn about the science of agriculture and career options while experiencing team building through nature exploration. Path Finders, a partnership with Junior Achievement of Central Florida, is an after-school opportunity for students to learn about themselves and develop a path toward a successful future through career exposure, self exploration and academic planning. Preschool Ambassadors, a partnership with the Early Learning Coalition of Central Florida and Adult Literacy League, is a program that engages families in early literacy activities, to increase pre-kindergarten enrollment and improve literacy instruction in pre-kindergarten centers.
More than 60 mayors competed for this initial round of grants. Grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 will also support volunteer initiatives in Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Birmingham, AL; Duluth, MN; Fall River, MA; Flint, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; Little Rock, AR; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pierre, SD; Pittsburgh, PA; Providence, RI; and Richmond, CA.
Backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund is a $2 million fund. Nearly $1 million is being granted through this initial round, with an additional $1 million available for deployment in 2013. Grantee cities were selected based on the quality of their initiatives, potential for impact, and implementation plans, among other criteria.
About Cities of Service
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 or inefficiently utilized strategy by municipal governments. Founded in September 2009, Cities of Service supports mayors to leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective.