FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG LAUNCHES NYC CIVIC CORPS TO MOBILIZE NEW YORKERS TO VOLUNTEER AND ADDRESS THE CITY’S GREATEST CHALLENGES
Major Initiative of NYC Service; Program Up and Running in Only Three Months
Corporation for National and Community Service Dedicates nearly 200 Stimulus Funded AmeriCorps VISTA Members in New York City
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today was joined by Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service Nicola Goren to launch the first-ever NYC Civic Corps and swear in its inaugural class of 193 AmeriCorps VISTA members. The NYC Civic Corps is a key initiative of NYC Service, the Mayor’s blueprint to increase service and civic engagement and respond to President Obama’s call for a new era of national service. NYC Civic Corps members will work to help nonprofits and public agencies dramatically increase the number of volunteers they mobilize, and achieve greater results and have greater impact through a more strategic use of those volunteers. They will work to create sustainable volunteer management structures that remain in place after their year-long terms of service end. The Mayor also recognized two City employees with the new NYC Service Award, Andrea Williams of the Department of Parks and Recreation and Frank Lowe of the Office of Emergency Management, for their exemplary service to their communities and the City. The Mayor and Ms. Goren were joined at City Hall Plaza for the swearing in and recognition ceremony by First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris and Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford.
“Today we launch the NYC Civic Corps – a group of nearly 200 caring, dynamic people who will lead our efforts to help more nonprofits and public agencies tap more volunteers to produce more results for our neighbors in need. That’s the promise of NYC Service,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “With the launch of this exciting new initiative, we take another major step forward in our efforts to answer President Obama’s call for a ‘new era of service.’ I want to thank the Corporation for National and Community Service for its extraordinary partnership, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation for their generosity, and the nearly 200 NYC Civic Corps members here today for their willingness to step up and serve this City.”
“These Recovery Act VISTAs will give a powerful boost to the City’s efforts to engage New Yorkers in the battle against poverty,” said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers AmeriCorps. “We commend the Mayor for his leadership and salute the men and women who’ve answered the President’s call to service by dedicating a year of their lives to fight poverty at a time of great economic and social need.”
“The NYC Civic Corps reflects Mayor Bloomberg’s strong commitment to increasing service, and to his recognition that nonprofits, already strained by increased demand and reduced revenues as a result of the national recession, need support now more than ever,” said First Deputy Mayor Harris. “If we want to make the call to service real in the lives of everyday New Yorkers, we need to invest in the capacity of nonprofits to use more volunteers and to use them more strategically and effectively. That’s what the NYC Civic Corps is all about.”
“This is a great day to celebrate how far we’ve come in such short order,” said Diahann Billings-Burford. “The challenge moving forward is to bring greater accountability to the field of volunteer management, especially as we ask more New Yorkers to give their time and energy as volunteers. We’re going to prove, here in New York City, that strategic investments in the use of volunteers as a serious change strategy can have measurable and impactful results.”
NYC Service was launched by Mayor Bloomberg in April to meet his State of the City pledge for New York City to lead the nation in answering President Obama’s national call to service. The program has three core goals: channel the power of volunteers to address the impacts of the current economic downturn, make New York City the easiest city in America in which to serve, and ensure every young person in New York City is taught about civic engagement and has an opportunity to serve. NYC Service aims to drive volunteer resources to six impacts areas where New York City’s needs are greatest: strengthening communities, helping neighbors in need, education, health, emergency preparedness and the environment. The NYC Civic Corps is a cornerstone initiative of this broader NYC Service plan. New Yorkers can find opportunities to serve their communities by visiting www.nyc.gov or by calling 311.
NYC Civic Corps members will be dispatched in teams, typically comprised of three members, to 57 public and nonprofit organizations in order to develop sustainable, impact volunteer programs that engage more New Yorkers to tackle the City’s greatest challenges. In focus groups conduced to develop NYC Service, leaders from organizations that use volunteers spoke powerfully about the need to engage more volunteers, but they also described significant financial and management challenges associated with doing so. Addressing this capacity gap at the local level is critical to maximizing the power of those who wish to serve, and thanks to this new partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service and its AmeriCorps Vista program, the NYC Civic Corps will address the gap locally. Stimulus funds have enabled the Corporation to dedicate 193 AmeriCorps VISTA slots to New York City. AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty and strengthen communities.
Nearly 400 public and nonprofit organizations and 800 individuals applied to be a part of the first-ever NYC Civic Corps. Members and host organizations were selected through a rigorous application process, screened by both the AmeriCorps VISTA program and a City committee formed by NYC Service. All participants in AmeriCorps VISTA programs receive a $1,129 monthly living allowance, health benefits, and educational awards, which can be used towards existing student loans or future education expenses.
Facts on the inaugural class of the NYC Civic Corps:
Civic Corps members are expected to join the organization they will be serving in the second week of August. The 57 public and nonprofit organizations receiving assistance this year are:
In addition to the assistance of the Corporation for National and Community Service, NYC Civic Corps benefits from the generous contributions of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation. NYC Civic Corps also benefits from a partnership with the Hands on Network and in-kind support provided by Gap, Inc. and the ABNY Foundation.
Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
Sandy Scott (Corp. for National and Community Service) (202) 355-2173
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