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June 30, 2009


Grants Fund Hiring of Chief Service Officers in Each City; Officers will Create and Implement a Citywide Plan to Increase Volunteerism

Mayors from Across the Country Launched Cities of Service to Engage more Americans in Community Service and Channel Volunteers Towards the Greatest Areas of Need

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, founding members of the Cities of Service coalition, today were joined by Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin to announce the winners of the second round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants. Ten cities were selected to receive a $200,000 grant over two years, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, to hire a Chief Service Officer – a senior city official who will develop and implement a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and target volunteers to address their city's greatest needs. Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of Mayors from across the country, representing more than 46 million Americans in 100 cities, dedicated to engaging more Americans in service and channeling volunteers towards each city's most pressing challenges.

The cities selected to receive the second round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants are Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Chula Vista, CA; Houston, TX; Little Rock, AK; Orlando, FL; Pittsburgh, PA; and Richmond, VA.

"Mayors from across the country, and from all parts of the political spectrum, share a strong commitment to harnessing the power of the civically-minded to help solve our most pressing local challenges – which is especially important in times like these," said Mayor Bloomberg. "I thank the Rockefeller Foundation for this investment in the capacity of cities to find innovative ways to solve our common problems."

"The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to continue its long tradition of supporting innovative solutions for urban communities by announcing the next ten cities to win Cities of Service Leadership Grants," said Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin. "In each of the now 20 unique and diverse cities receiving this grant, there will now be sustained opportunities to bring systematic change and greater impact to the way communities support each other. In these difficult economic times – reflected by the overwhelming response to this effort and the incredible six year high in the number of Americans volunteering – there is clearly a need in local communities for service, clearly a desire within citizens to volunteer, and a great need for public-private partnerships that foster and support these efforts."

"Nashville has seen and experienced first-hand the amazing power of volunteers," said Nashville Mayor Dean. "Over 17,000 people have stepped up to help Nashville recover from the historic flood that hit our city in May. These volunteers removed flood debris from homes, distributed donations, staffed disaster recovery centers, and continue to work in our community as people have started to rebuild. They have provided the manpower to respond to this disaster in a way that government could not have done on its own. Our city is grateful for the Cities of Service Leadership Grant that we received in January, and we are pleased to see 10 more cities have the opportunity to develop a plan for volunteerism. Volunteers can play a big role in making a city a better place to live, and as in our case, they can be the difference between simply surviving a disaster and being able to recover from one."

Supported by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Chief Service Officers were awarded to ten other cities in January, and they are already working towards launching comprehensive service plans this fall to address problems of critical need in their communities. To identify those problems, Chief Service Officers in the original ten cities surveyed more than 3,300 individuals and included more than 200 stakeholders and leaders in the non-profit community on advisory councils. The cities have engaged 72 colleges and universities as a part of their service plan and are working with over 300 non-profit organizations.

The announcement was made in New York City on the final day of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, convened nationally by the Points of Light Institute, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and locally convened by NYC Service and New Yorkers Volunteer. JetBlue Airways provided flights to and from the conference for representatives from mayors' offices that are part of the Cities of Service coalition.

"I look forward to working with the City of Atlanta's new Chief Service Officer," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. "With this new position, we will increase volunteerism in a strategic manner, develop new partnerships with businesses and philanthropic leaders, implement action-oriented plans, and deliver concrete results for our residents.  This grant allows us to make service and civic engagement a fundamental part of how the City conducts business on a daily basis, from investing in the development of our young people to making Atlanta cleaner, greener, safer, and more caring. This is a tremendous opportunity, and we are honored to be selected as a Cities of Service Leadership Grant recipient."

"We are honored and excited to have been chosen by Cities of Service, the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies to receive this Leadership Grant," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. "These funds, along with the support of the Cities of Service coalition, will help Austin increase volunteerism and focus volunteers in the areas of greatest need in our community. I look forward to working closely with local leaders, as well as Cities of Service coalition members from all across the country, to develop and deploy a citywide community service plan that will make a meaningful, positive difference for Austin's future."

"I am pleased that Baltimore was awarded a Cities of Service grant to support a Chief Service Officer," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "With this grant, the City will be able to more effectively coordinate volunteer efforts and create lasting change to make our communities better, safer and stronger."

"The City of Baton Rouge is committed to expanding volunteerism as a major component of the City's response to the needs of its citizens," said Baton Rouge Mayor Melvin "Kip" Holden. "Baton Rouge is proud to be a member of the Cities of Service Coalition. We recognize and value the contribution of volunteerism in addressing the needs of its citizens. We are fortunate to have a spirit of service in this community and this grant allows us to assess the needs, identify available resources, and develop a plan to build on that spirit and increase our capacity to direct those efforts to critical areas of need, with particular emphasis on neighborhood revitalization."

"As Chula Vista approaches its Centennial in November 2011, our involvement with Cities of Service is a perfect opportunity for residents to celebrate our city with a renewed sense of pride," said Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox. "We plan to strategically enhance the value of our community by making lasting changes and solving some of our city's most pressing challenges through service."

"Houstonians pride themselves on everyone's willingness to help each other, regardless of background or profession," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "With this Cities of Service grant, Houston will lead the effort to promote the spirit of volunteerism year-round among and for our youth, as well as strengthen our volunteer services to veterans. Our civic pride will soar to new heights."

"The City of Little Rock is ripe for this opportunity to promote volunteerism," said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. "Increasing volunteer support helps local governments stretch their limited resources as far as possible in difficult economic times."

"The Cities of Service Leadership Grant will allow us to engage more residents in volunteer service that will directly benefit some of our community's greatest needs," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "This grant will further allow us to showcase our City's commitment to volunteerism and to serve as a national model for service in our country.  On behalf of our citizens, I thank the Cities of Service and the Rockefeller Foundation for this generous grant and tremendous support."

"The City of Pittsburgh has a rich culture of neighbors helping neighbors," said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "In these difficult economic times, service is more important than ever. I am extremely grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies for this Cities of Service Leadership Grant. The Chief Service Officer position deepens the commitment I was proud to make on September 10, 2009 when I signed on as a member of the Cities of Service Coalition and committed the City of Pittsburgh to a renewed focus on volunteer and service opportunities. The health of our communities depends upon engaging citizens in addressing the most intractable needs of our neighborhoods and of our youth."

 "I am very pleased that Richmond has been selected to receive the Cities of Service Leadership Grant," said Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "This award will aid our Neighbor-to-Neighbor initiative, which encourages Richmond residents to embrace those values and caring natures that once framed our communities as a better place to do business, raise children and help our neighbors. This innovative set of initiatives is aimed at achieving goals to inspire each of us to develop a closer relationship with our neighbors, especially the youth, elderly and disabled residents of our community. I would like to thank the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies for the investment in our community. It will help Richmond set a new standard for how cities can utilize the power of its people in tackling their most pressing challenges."

More on the New Cities Receiving Cities of Service Leadership Grants

  • Atlanta – population: 537,958; Mayor Kasim Reed; priority need areas: reopening community centers and public safety.
  • Austin – population: 757,688; Mayor Lee Leffingwell; priority need areas: strengthening hands-on educational opportunities, promoting civic engagement and cultural awareness.
  • Baltimore – population: 636,919; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; priority need areas: better schools and safer streets.
  • Baton Rouge – population: 223,689; Mayor Melvin "Kip" Holden; priority need areas: housing rehabilitation and neighborhood revitalization.
  • Chula Vista – population: 219,318; Mayor Cheryl Cox; priority need areas: education and public health.
  • Houston – population: 2,242,193; Mayor Annise Parker; priority need areas: youth development and veteran affairs.
  • Little Rock – population: 189,515; Mayor Mark Stodola; priority need areas: reducing obesity and safer streets.
  • Orlando – population: 230,519; Mayor Buddy Dyer; priority need areas: youth crime prevention and education.
  • Pittsburgh – population: 310,037; Mayor Luke Ravenstahl; priority need areas: neighborhood development and youth.
  • Richmond – population: 202,002; Mayor Dwight C. Jones; priority need areas: education, elderly and disabled citizens.

Applications for Cities of Service Leadership Grants were limited to members of the Cities of Service coalition, to cities that have more than 100,000 residents according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau estimate and to cities that have at least one community college or four-year public or private university. In total, more than half of the eligible cities applied. A selection committee was established to review the applications and make the selections. As part of each application, cities were asked to submit at least two high-priority issue areas they will target with increased service. Cities of Service will develop best practices and resources to help cities target those areas.

The first round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants was announced in January 2010. The selected cities, which have all appointed Chief Service Officers, were Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; Savannah, GA; and Seattle, WA. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed the nation's first Chief Service Officer, Diahann Billings-Burford, in June 2009.

About Cities of Service

Founded in New York City on September 10, 2009 with 17 initial member cities, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have answered the historic Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act's call to action. All coalition members have signed a "Declaration of Service," committing to work together to lead a multi-year effort to expand community service and volunteerism by:

  • Developing a comprehensive service plan and a coordinated strategy focused on matching volunteers and established community partners to the areas of greatest local need;
  • Working with other mayors and elected officials to advance strategies and best practices that accelerate the service movement and produce measurable results;
  • Encouraging other mayors to join this national effort to engage our citizens; and
  • Ensuring that the voice of cities is heard in federal legislative, policy, and program discussions related to service, which will help the country achieve the ambitious goals of the Serve America Act.

The Cities of Service coalition includes the following cities: Akron, OH; Albany, NY; Allentown, PA; Annapolis, MD; Arlington, TX; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Birmingham, AL; Boston, MA; Bowling Green, KY; Brownsville, TX; Buffalo, NY; Catoosa, OK; Chandler, AZ; Charleston, SC; Chattanooga, TN; Chicago, IL; Chula Vista, CA; Cincinnati, OH; Corpus Christi, TX; Davis, CA; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Dublin, OH; El Paso, TX; Eugene, OR; Flint, MI; Fort Wayne, IN; Fresno, CA; Grand Prairie, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; Harrisburg, PA; Hattiesburg, MS; Honolulu, HI; Houston, TX; Irvine, CA; Jackson, MS; Jacksonville, FL; Kalamazoo, MI; Kansas City, MO; Lancaster, CA; Lexington, KY; Los Angeles, CA; Meridian, MS; Mesa, AZ; Miami, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Muskegon, MI; Nashville and Davidson County, TN; New Bedford, MA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Oakland, CA; Omaha, NE; Orlando, FL; Palm Bay, FL; Panama City, FL; Pawtucket, RI; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Placerville, CA; Portland, OR; Providence, RI; Reading, PA; Riverside, CA; Roseville, CA; Sacramento, CA; Salinas, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Antonio, TX; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Santa Fe, NM; Santa Rosa, CA; Savannah, GA; Seattle, WA; Somerville, MA; Springfield, MA; St Louis, MO; St Paul, MN; St Petersburg, FL; Stockton, CA; Syracuse, NY; Toledo, OH; Topeka, KS; Trenton, NJ; Tucson, AZ; Utica, NY; Vancouver, WA; Ventura, CA; Vicksburg, MS; Virginia Beach, VA; Washington, DC; West Palm Beach, FL; Little Rock, AR; Richmond, VA.

More information about the coalition can be found at

More information about the Rockefeller Foundation can be found at


Mayor Bloomberg's Press Office (Cities of Service)
(212) 788-2958

Teresa Wells (Rockefeller Foundation)
(347) 463-8314

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