Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, and 16 other mayors today announced a new coalition to promote volunteerism as a way to help cities combat their most-pressing problems.
The mayors, dubbing their effort “Cities of Service,” said they will share strategies on how to engage citizens at the local level and join together to make their voices heard in Washington.
“Cities around the country are facing enormous challenges, and mayors have an opportunity to make the most of our greatest asset: public-sprited citizens and organizations,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement after a meeting with the mayors in New York.
The Rockefeller Foundation, in New York, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the group that manages the mayor’s charitable giving, have agreed to provide money to a $4-million fund that will help the cities develop their strategies. It will provide grants during the next six months to 10 cities to hire “chief service officers” to help develop volunteer programs. (Rockefeller will provide $2-million to the fund and Bloomberg part of the rest, a spokesman for the mayor said.)
New York was the first city in the country to create such a position this summer as part of NYC Service, a program Mr. Bloomberg announced in April. The New York effort includes a one-stop Web site for people to locate volunteer opportunities; a plan to cut the costs of screening volunteers by developing a centralized system; and a hotline that would-be volunteers can call for advice. (See the Chronicle’s article about NYC Service.)
In addition to New York, the cities that have signed on to the new coalition are Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dublin (Ohio), Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Nashville, Newark, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Providence, Sacramento, Trenton, Vicksburg (Miss.), Washington, and West Palm Beach.
ServiceNation, a coalition of more than 200 groups that promote national and community service, will help to promote the Cities of Service project.
The mayors hope to persuade more of their colleagues across the country to join the coalition by signing the coalition’s Declaration of Service. Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg, noted that another mayors’ coalition that Mr. Bloomberg helped to start in 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now has more than 450 members.
For more information, see the Cities of Service Web site.
The mayors were scheduled to announce the coalition today with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a leading Hollywood charity, at a joint event in Times Square.
The charity planned to announce a separate multi-year campaign to enlist television networks and the wider entertainment industry in an effort to promote volunteerism. Called “I Participate,” it will get its start the week of October 19, when ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, as well as some cable networks, have agreed to highlight volunteerism through scripts, public service announcements, and pitches from TV cast members. (See The Chronicle‘s article about I Participate.)
The Entertainment Industry Foundation also plans to help promote Cities of Service.