Cities of Service and Rockefeller Foundation Award First-Ever Leadership Grant to Nashville on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service


Group of 17 City Mayors, Including Nashville’s Mayor, Karl Dean, At Rockefeller Center September 10, 2009


Grant to Fund Chief Service Officer Position to Lead Local Efforts to Increase Volunteerism

Cities of Service and the Rockefeller Foundation today announced the winners of the first-ever Cities of Service Leadership grants. As one of the ten winning cities, Nashville will receive the $200,000 two-year grant, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, to hire a Chief Service Officer dedicated to developing and implementing a citywide plan to increase volunteerism.

Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors from across the country, representing more than 38 million Americans in 80 cities, dedicated to engaging more Americans in service and channeling volunteers toward each city’s most pressing challenges.

Each of the winners displayed a strong commitment to service and outlined thoughtful, thorough, and creative approaches to expanding local opportunities for volunteers to make an impact in their city. Of the ten grant recipients, five are founding members of the Cities of Service coalition, including Nashville.

“I first learned of this funding opportunity when I joined Mayor Bloomberg in New York in September for the formation of Cities of Service. These are tight times for city budgets. This grant will allow us to have dedicated staff for developing service opportunities, something we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. I look forward to engaging our citizens to in our cities greatest needs and priorities, especially education,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said.

“I can think of no better way to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, co-founder of Cities of Service. “His words – as eloquent as you will ever find – were about more than our highest aspirations. They were also a call to action. That is something that mayors know well. We are the ones who confront challenges, day in and day out, and we have quickly learned that service is an important tool that we can use to solve local problems. These grants will quickly allow mayors to expand their local service opportunities and deepen their impact.”

The Cities of Service Leadership grants will allow each city to hire a Chief Service Officer, a senior-ranking official who will develop and implement a citywide service plan by June 1, 2010. To do so, each Chief Service Officer will convene a strategic committee of service experts and stakeholders, conduct an assessment of existing service levels, and identify collaborative partnerships to deepen the effects of local volunteerism. By December 1, 2010, recipient cities must submit a progress report tracking the results of the comprehensive service plan and launch a website that allows both volunteers to search for service opportunities and service organizations seeking to engage citizens.

A selection committee – made up of the Rockefeller Foundation, national service experts, and city representatives – awarded the grants based upon the ability of the applicant to outline how they would: conduct an assessment of existing service levels; produce a coordinated citywide plan to increase service; engage local universities; and appoint a Chief Service Officer who would report directly to the mayor or another high-ranking official in the administration. Applications were limited to members of the coalition in cities that have more than 100,000 residents, according to the 2000 census, and have at least one community college or four-year public or private university. In total, 50 cities applied for a leadership grant.

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