December 16, 2013, – Orlando, FL – After receiving a record-number of applications, Cities of Service announced that it has awarded $100,000 to Orlando to expand implementation of ORLANDO CARES, the city’s high-impact service plan designed to address youth crime prevention and education. Orlando is one of 23 U.S. cities to win a Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grant, which supports mayors who are implementing “impact volunteering” strategies that tackle pressing local challenges.
“To date, the City has engaged more than 800 resident volunteers in ORLANDO CARES programs that have helped our youth improve their academic success, increase their literacy skills, plan viable career choices and avoid the juvenile justice system,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “The 2014 Cities of Service grant will allow us to expand our ORLANDO CARES program and continue to work together with even more of our residents to help address our community’s needs, making Orlando a better place for everyone to live, work and play.”
Orlando’s $100,000 grant will expand several ORLANDO CARES initiatives, including The Garden, Path Finders, Third Grade Reads powered by Read2Succeed and Volunteer CPR. The Garden, a partnership with Orange County 4H, is an after-school program for inner city and at-risk youth where students grow their own vegetable and herb gardens, learn about the science of agriculture and explore career options, and experience team building through nature exploration. Path Finders, a partnership with Junior Achievement of Central Florida, is an after-school opportunity for students to develop a path toward a successful future through career exposure, self-exploration, and academic planning. Third Grade Reads powered by Read2Succeed, a partnership with the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools, engages volunteers as reading tutors in city elementary schools to improve students’ literacy skills. And Volunteer CPR, a new ORLANDO CARES initiative in partnership with the Orlando Fire Department, aims to train more than 2,000 residents in hands-only CPR to improve the community’s ability to respond to cardiac arrest emergencies.
The Cities of Service model focuses on impact volunteering – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear, measurable outcomes to gauge progress. Dozens of cities across the nation have adopted the model since its introduction in 2009. Cities that received first round grants from the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund in October 2012 already have shown success leveraging volunteers across a range of issue areas.
Since launching ORLANDO CARES in March of 2011, more than 5,000 youth have been supported. Through The Garden, participating youth have planted nearly 300 container gardens, with 78% of participating youth reporting that the program increased their knowledge of healthy foods. All of the students participating in the Path Finders program created an individualized career plan, outlining high school course work and higher education necessary for their career interests. And, second graders tutored by Third Grade Reads powered by Read2Succeed volunteers had an 88% improvement in their reading fluency in one school year. ORLANDO CARES has engaged students with volunteers at 20 public schools, 27 Voluntary Prekindergarten centers, and more than a dozen city community centers and Boys and Girls Clubs. ORLANDO CARES has been recognized nationally for successfully using impact volunteering to address local challenges. Much of this has been made possible with the support of Cities of Service grants.
More than 60 mayors applied for Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grants to support the implementation of nearly 90 initiatives. Grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 also will support efforts in Allentown, PA; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Birmingham, AL; Buffalo, NY; Campton Hills, IL; Charleston, SC; Fall River, MA; Flint, MI; Hartford, CT; Hayward, CA; Kalamazoo, MI; Kansas City, KS; Louisville, KY; Mesa, AZ; Milwaukee, WI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; Richmond, CA; San Jose, CA; Utica, NY; and Washington, DC.
Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund is a multi-million dollar fund. Nearly $1 million was awarded through the first round of grants in October 2012, with an additional $1 million awarded through this second round. Grantee cities were selected based on the quality of initiative proposals, scale and potential for impact, and caliber of implementation plans, among other criteria. Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund initiatives address issues in the Cities of Service priority areas of education and youth, health, neighborhood revitalization, preparedness and safety, sustainability, and veterans.
About Cities of Service
Founded in September 2009 in New York City by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of over 180 mayors committed to addressing critical city needs through impact volunteering. American cities face serious challenges and many mayors want to take advantage of every resource available to them – including the time and energy of public-spirited residents – to address those challenges. But in cities across America today, citizen service is often an underutilized strategy by municipal governments. By leveraging citizen service strategies, Cities of Service helps mayors address local needs and make government more effective. To find out more about Cities of Service, visit our website at www.citiesofservice.org or follow us on Twitter @CitiesOfService.