September was a busy month for the Cities of Service team. Keep reading for news, upcoming events, and helpful resources for your city. 
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Photo Credit: Cities of Service
Cities of Service is pleased to announce the launch of a brand new website! Our redesigned and reimagined site will make it easier for coalition members to explore best practices around citizen engagement and find resources to make a difference in their communities. Let our resources provide step-by-step guidance to build comprehensive service plans or implement a particular citizen engagement initiative in your city. Delve into our Stories of Service to get inspired by all the hard work our coalition members are doing! Explore an interactive map of all 235+ Cities of Service Coalition Members - click through to individual city pages to learn what they’re doing to make their cities stronger. 


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Photo Credit: Cities of Service/ City of Austin/ Keep Phoenix Beautiful 

Cities of Service Coalition Participates in 9/11 Day of Service

In partnership with, the City of Austin, and the City of Phoenix, the Cities of Service Coalition participated in 9/11 Day through acts of service. In New York, AmeriCorps VISTA Leaders Stanley Clark and Elisha Fox joined the Student Conservation Association's ConSERVE NYC in efforts to preserve and revitalize Governors Island. Over 250 volunteers removed invasive species, created a rain garden, and built oyster cages to rehabilitate New York Harbor's native oysters. In Austin, veterans groups worked with over 200 citizen volunteers to assemble more than 1,000 clean-up kits for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The City of Austin will continue to focus volunteer efforts on helping those displaced by the hurricane find long-term shelter. In Phoenix, City Councilman Michael Nowakowski and Keep Phoenix Beautiful President Tom Waldeck kicked off 9/11 Day with the opening of a brand new community garden at 18th Avenue and Pierson Street. The garden will serve as an education and demonstration space for the entire community. 
Photo Credit: Bloomberg Cities
Cities of Service Wants to Help You Prepare for the 2020 Census

The Local Update of Census Addresses, or LUCA, is the only opportunity for local government entities to review and comment on the U.S. Census Bureau’s residential address list prior to the 2020 Census. Participation in LUCA ensures the most accurate census count in your city and a fair distribution of funding for federal programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, Community Development Block Grants, and Section 8. LUCA tells the Census Bureau where to count when the 2020 Census begins. In July 2017 the Census Bureau sent packets of information about participating in LUCA to the highest elected official in your city. This packet included the registration forms, which can be downloaded online here. Completed registration forms must be submitted to the Census Bureau by December 15, 2017. If you need more information on the LUCA process, watch this webinar recording and review the files linked below from the Census Bureau. 

LUCA Flyer
LUCA Information Guide

Cities of Service Coalition Comes Together For Rapid Response to Hurricane Irma

After the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, the City of Miami’s Chief Service Officer, Raul Hernandez, and Encore Fellow, Kevin Vericker, reached out to Cities of Service to learn how other coalition cities have deployed volunteers to assist in relief efforts after a disaster. Instead of hosting one-off calls, the Cities of Service team decided to host a rapid response call, where representatives from the City of Miami could hear from multiple cities at once about strategies they used to recruit and manage volunteers, bring together key community organizations, and sustain engagement for longer-term volunteer efforts.

On the call, the Cities of Buffalo, Nashville, San José, and San Leandro shared best practices such as using social media to galvanize volunteers around a particular area of need and engaging volunteers to help restore natural protective barriers like tree canopies. Cities also discussed the importance of working with partners to pool resources for greater impact and how to engage volunteers as they transition from crisis to recovery. The rapid response call demonstrated the power of the coalition’s community of practice and how municipal leaders can look to their colleagues for valuable insights and support during times of need.
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Photo Credit: Office of Community Affairs, City of Pittsburgh
Love Your [Resilient] Block Wraps Up In Pittsburgh 
In the last week of September, the City of Pittsburgh wrapped up its 2016-2017 Love Your [Resilient] Block (LYRB) season with a celebration at City Hall. Project leaders, citizen volunteers, partner organizations, and participating city departments gathered to reflect on the 31 projects that were completed over the summer. The 2017 LYRB cohort impacted over 48 city blocks in 26 neighborhoods throughout the city. Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members and staff from the Mayor's Office of Community Affairs handed out certificates on behalf of Mayor Peduto to thank and congratulate each community group. Grantees were eager to learn about the other LYRB projects and shared successes and challenges with each other. Many grantees inquired about another year of Love Your Resilient Block and hope to apply again. 

Project highlights from the season include:  
  • The Chauncey Street Steps, Hill District Neighborhood: With help from Terri Baltimore, Director of Neighborhood Engagement at the Hill House Association, volunteers cleared litter and invasive plant species, installed green spaces to absorb rainwater, and developed landmarks to promote the steps as a safe space. 
  • Uptown Neighborhood: With help from Jeanne McNutt, Executive Director of Uptown Partners and community leaders Joe and Linda, volunteers created a colorful park-let to serve as a refuge for local wildlife and citizens alike while mitigating gas emissions created by the region's most heavily traveled corridor. 
  • Intersection of Aloe and Mathilda Streets, Bloomfield Neighborhood: With help from Christina Howell, Executive Director of Bloomfield Development, and resident Nathan Peluso, volunteers created a welcoming green space out of an empty and litter-filled lot. 
Photo Credit: Cities of Service 

Where Was Cities of Service This Month?

2017 IAP2 North American Conference 
"What is the future of public participation?" From September 6-8, Program Manager for Engagement Design Nikola Pavelić joined fellow practitioners in Denver, Colorado to explore this question and learn about practices such as "in the moment research" and "appreciative inquiry." He looks forward to sharing these innovative approaches with the Cities of Service Coalition. 

Voices for National Service Capitol Hill Day
On September 12, Deputy Director Mauricio Garcia joined 150 participants from across the country in Washington, D.C. for Voices for National Service Capitol Hill Day. Participants met with members of Congress to demonstrate the positive impact that service makes in communities across our country. 
Photo Credit: City of Norfolk
Volunteer Spotlight: David McElhaney
Norfolk, Virginia

This month we're shining a light on super citizen David McElhaney. David is the President and CEO of the Norfolk Municipal Federal Credit Union and volunteer Financial Coach for BankOn, a 10-month course that helps Norfolk residents living paycheck to paycheck build a financially secure future. Not only does he continue to attend every program orientation, his experience and passion for service has helped fuel the BankOn program over the last five years. From all of us at Cities of Service, thank you for your service, David! 

“Life is hard enough without having to battle financial issues daily. BankOn helps you develop financial habits to improve your life and plan your future.”
- David McElhaney


Bay Day, October 7, Bay Area
Join communities across the Bay Area as they unite to explore and enjoy the natural wonders of the Bay Area through immersive, Bay-themed educational and recreational activities. Sign up here

Green Infrastructure Volunteer Day, October 14, City of Hoboken
Join the City of Hoboken from 10am-4pm to build a rain garden, participate in a community garden cleanup, or to maintain bioswales. Sign up for a two-hour shift here

Make a Difference Day, October 28, Nationwide
Volunteers from across the country will unite for annual Make A Difference Day, one of the largest single days of service nationwide. Find opportunities in your area here.

Grants & Opportunities 

Attend the 2017 National Conference on Citizenship

With the belief that every person has the ability to help their community and country thrive, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is challenging participants to consider their personal and collective responsibility in solving problems faced by communities across the U.S.

Focused on strengthening civic life in America, the 2017 NCoC will take an honest look at some of the critical issues facing U.S. communities today – from a dearth of civic learning, to the opioid epidemic, to the persistent opportunity gap confronting American youth in marginalized communities. 

The 2017 National Conference on Citizenship will be held in Washington, D.C. from October 19-20, 2017. Find out more and register for the conference. If you have questions or need assistance, contact Kristin Cotter

Apply for the Culture of Health Prize 
The RWJF Culture of Health Prize honors communities that are making great strides in their journey toward better health by creating powerful partnerships and deep commitments to make change—change that will enable all in our diverse society to lead healthier lives now and for generations to come.

Up to 10 winning communities will each receive a $25,000 cash prize and have their success stories celebrated and shared broadly to inspire locally-driven change across the nation.

Apply for the 2018 Culture of Health Prize here

Tools & Resources

Explore Potential Wealth in Your City
Penny is a tool that helps you understand what wealth and poverty look like in cities. Penny lets you play around with the landscape of a city, by adding and removing urban features like buildings, parks, and freeways in high-resolution imagery. Thinking about adding a new feature in your city but not sure how it would affect property values? Check out Penny

What We're Reading

Findings, insights, and ideas from the citizen engagement space
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