The first round of Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grants went out Wednesday Oct. 17 with Indianapolis being 1 of 18 cities across the United States to receive a $25,000 grant. Funded by Bloomberg Philantrophies, the grants are intended to assist mayors in utilizing volunteer corps to tackle important problems in their communities. Grants were awarded in amounts ranging from $25,000 to $100,000. Other cities receiving grants include Fall River, MA; Providence, RI; Baltimore, MD; Pittsburgh, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Orlando, FL; Flint, MI; Kalamzaoo, MI; Little Rock, AR; Duluth, MN; Pierre, SD; Austin, TX; Phoenix, AZ; and Richmond, CA.
“As this program shows, mayors across the country are committed to using volunteers to tackle our biggest challenges,” said New York City Mayor and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg. “Following the success of this model in New York City and other cities across the country, Bloomberg Philanthropies is excited to support the proliferation of impact volunteering programs, which provide a significant opportunity for elected officials operating in a tight fiscal environment to mobilize citizens and make a measurable difference within their communities.”
The grants endeavor to assist cities struggling with austere budget cuts and decreased federal government aid in assembling volunteers to address critical issues such as access to healthy food, sustainable energy demands, and education equality. Mayor Bloomberg intends to use Indiana’s $25,000 to expand the city’s efforts to increase access to healthy food by growing and harvesting 2,000 pounds of produce from the community gardens.
Close to $1 million is being distributed during this first round and another $1 million will be appropriated in 2013. Recipients of the grant were chosen based on quality of the project, potential impact, and application of the project.
The Cities of Service initiative emphasizes the positive impact volunteering can make in resolving community problems by focusing on identifying community needs, best practice operations, and goal setting with means of gauging success. Beginning in 2009, the initiative has been taken on by dozens of cities and over 60 mayors applied for the first round of grants. To see a complete list of Cities of Service members please see their website.