Mayor Rawlings-Blake Announces Cities of Service Volunteer Plan

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Bernard C. "Jack" Young
Mayor,
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425

Better Schools. Safer Streets. Stronger Neighborhoods.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
James E. Bentley II
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Comprehensive Volunteer plan seeks to harness volunteer energy to tackle pressing challenges: Drug Addiction, Vacant lots, and Youth Violence

In keeping with a pledge made in her state of the City Address, today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced details about a new comprehensive volunteer plan: stepUP! Baltimore. The initiative will leverage volunteer service as a strategy to address the most pressing challenges in Baltimore’s communities including, drug addiction, vacant lots, and youth violence. stepUP! Baltimore was developed with support from a Cities of Service Leadership Grant. Baltimore is one of only twenty cities across the country to be awarded the grant. The new volunteer plan will be implemented during the summer.

“Baltimore is filled with agents of change,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. “In each person and in every corner of our city, from the least to the most likely of places, we are the agents of change who give back, who help, who volunteer to make our city better, safer, and stronger. Now more than ever we need to tap into our volunteer resources.”

The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Chief Service Officer Vu Dang, Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems Executive Director Greg Warren, Deputy Baltimore Housing Commissioner Julie Day, Department of Juvenile Services Executive Director for the Baltimore City Region Delmas Wood, and UMBC Shriver Center Program Coordinator for Service-Learning Lori Hardesty.

Residents interested in taking part in stepUP! Baltimore can visit stepup.baltimorecity.gov. Individuals can view and download the full stepUP! Baltimore plan, learn more about its volunteer initiatives—which will launch in the summer—and find additional volunteer opportunities around the city.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake announced four new and unique Volunteer Plan Strategies for Baltimore:

  • Recovery Corps - will create a trained city-wide corps of 100 volunteers who themselves have sustained recovery from drug addiction and who will provide support to individuals in treatment and recovery. Recovery Corp will build bridges between these individuals and the larger Baltimore community through shared volunteer service activities. Recovery Corps volunteers will be recruited starting this spring, trained in the summer, and placed in their assignments in the fall. “With Recovery Corps, Baltimore's roughly 60,000 drug dependent citizens will no longer be treated as a civic liability; instead, our family, friends, and neighbors in recovery will be a treated as potential assets to this great city,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said.
  • Power in Dirt - will implement changes to make it easier for community volunteers to revitalize vacant lots in some of the most blighted areas of the city. The Power in Dirt initiative builds on already existing community efforts and Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s Vacants to Value initiative to revitalize vacant lots by creating new opportunities for dedicated residents to get involved in beautifying their neighborhood. “When we have so many Baltimoreans making their neighborhoods stronger by turning vacant lots into green spaces that chase away blight and crime, we need to help by clearing government red tape and bureaucracy out of their way,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.
  • The Supper Club - will bring adult volunteers together with young people who are in the juvenile justice system to share regular meals and conversation. Their meals will take part in a safe and supportive environment. Young people who participate in Supper Club will be given an opportunity to become volunteer mentors. Baltimore CARES - aims to cultivate a generation of life-long learners and volunteers by tapping into the potential of at-risk students to become change agents. “The rate of juvenile crime and arrests continues to plummet in Baltimore,” added Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “We know that alternative practices and programs that rely less on locking up our youth are working. We need to support these life-saving alternatives and encourage more Baltimoreans to lend an ear, offer advice, and introduce our youth to social networks that increase their opportunities and broaden their horizons.”
  • Baltimore CARES - will develop two multidisciplinary service-learning curricula whereby these students will revitalize a vacant lot and address the challenge of addiction in their communities. Once developed and implemented, the curricula will be made available to other schools, organizations, and programs seeking to increase student learning and civic engagement.

About Cities of Service:

Founded in New York City on September 10, 2009 by 17 mayors from cities around the nation, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have committed to work together to engage citizens in a multi-year effort to address pressing city needs through impact volunteerism. The coalition includes more than 100 mayors, representing more than 49 million Americans across the nation. Cities of Service supports mayors to leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective. All Cities of Service efforts are characterized by a concept called “impact volunteering” – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress.

About Cities of Service Leadership Grants:

In June 2010, the second round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, were awarded to Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Chula Vista, CA; Houston, TX; Little Rock, AR; Orlando, FL; Pittsburgh, PA; and Richmond, VA. As with the first round, these two-year grants enable cities to hire Chief Service Officers responsible for developing and implementing high-impact service plans.

The first round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, were awarded in January 2010 to Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; Savannah, GA; and Seattle, WA. These ten cities launched high-impact service plans in September 2010.

The first high-impact service plan was developed by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg when he created NYC Service and hired the nation’s first Chief Service Officer in 2009. More information about the coalition can be found at www.citiesofservice.org.

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