Press & Media

17 Mayors From Across The Country Launch Cities Of Service To Mobilize Millions More Americans In A New Era Of Service

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today was joined by mayors from 16 cities across the country to launch Cities of Service, a bipartisan coalition of mayors representing more than 20 million Americans, who will work together to engage millions more volunteers in service. The founding mayors met for a half-day summit at Gracie Mansion where they signed a Declaration of Service, a commitment to finding new ways to tap the power of volunteers to address each city’s most pressing challenges. The coalition will share strategies on how best to engage citizens at the local level, and it will provide a platform for the mayors to make their voices heard – and their priorities known – in Washington. The coalition will utilize lead support from the Rockefeller Foundation to provide technical assistance and other support to member mayors, including funding full-time Chief Service Officers in select cities to develop and implement comprehensive service programs.

The summit at Gracie Mansion occurred just five months after the passage of the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and the day before the anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, the newly designated National Day of Service and Remembrance. The 17 founding mayors were joined at the summit by Entertainment Industry Foundation President Lisa Paulsen, Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, film and television star and social media innovator Ashton Kutcher and leaders from service organizations.

The founding members of the Cities of Service coalition are Atlanta, GA Mayor Shirley Franklin; Baltimore, MD Mayor Sheila Dixon; Chicago, IL Mayor Richard Daley; Dublin, OH Mayor Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher; Jacksonville, FL Mayor John Peyton; Los Angeles, CA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Nashville, TN Mayor Karl Dean; Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker; Phoenix, AZ Mayor Phil Gordon; Pittsburgh, PA Mayor Luke Ravenstahl; Providence, RI Mayor David Cicilline; Sacramento, CA Mayor Kevin Johnson; Trenton, NJ Mayor Douglas Palmer; Vicksburg, MS Mayor Paul Winfield; Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty; West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Lois Frankel and Mayor Bloomberg.

“The historic, bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act promises ‘a new era of service’ in America – and America’s mayors can help lead the way in making it a reality,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Cities around the country are facing enormous challenges, and mayors have an opportunity to make the most of our greatest asset: public-spirited citizens and organizations. This new coalition will encourage mayors to find new ways to tap the power of their citizens, help us identify and share the most effective approaches, and empower us to speak with one voice in Washington.”

“We are building on the rich tradition of Atlanta volunteerism that has existed through efforts like the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday – a national day of service – and Hands on Atlanta. Cities of Service is another way for us to expand those efforts,” said Atlanta, GA Mayor Shirley Franklin.

“It is an honor to stand with Mayors from other cities to promote community service, volunteerism, and being caring neighbors to one another. American families are facing pivotal times in our county’s history, and reinforcing services of support for those most vulnerable is critical. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership in pulling together a diverse coalition of leaders with a common focus,” said Baltimore, MD Mayor Sheila Dixon.

“Volunteerism sends a powerful message – people helping people make our cities better places to live, work and raise a family. That’s the message Cities of Service will carry around the nation. The City of Chicago is pleased to be part of this great effort to bring new energy and ideas to the service movement. Every hour that a person gives makes a difference and when people work together, great things happen,” said Chicago, IL Mayor Richard Daley.

“Dublin, Ohio is committed to answering the call to serve our community and cultivate this effort among all cities – large and small – as we become a nation of citizens of service,” said Dublin, OH Mayor Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher.

“America’s cities face similar challenges trying to balance budgets while providing needed services for their citizens. Not only is volunteering the right thing to do, encouraging volunteerism is the smart thing for mayors to do,” said Jacksonville, FL Mayor John Peyton.

“Small acts of everyday heroes bring communities together and help individuals through difficult times. If Americans, and especially our young people, do their part and answer the call to service, cities across this country will support their efforts and help them contribute to the greater good,” Mayor Los Angeles, CA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“As the capital city for the Volunteer State, my goal is for Nashville to be a leading city in this national service initiative. Nashville is known as Music City and one of the friendliest cities in America – we’re a city with tremendous talent and good will. We need to put those attributes to work in our neighborhoods and our schools,” said Nashville, TN Mayor Karl Dean.

“We all owe a debt to millions of Americans who served in generations before us, to pay that debt and to further our advances and to deal with the pressing challenges of our generation, service is not an answer, it is the only one,” said Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker.

“Volunteering to help others is a truly American response to tragedy. Yes, we should pause and reflect on what we lost on that September morning, but we should also to look toward the future – to come together as a nation – once again and always, to do good things for America,” said Phoenix, AZ Mayor Phil Gordon.

“I am honored to work with my mayoral counterparts from across the country to help all Americans, in cities large and small, find new ways to serve their communities. Our strong belief in community service is something that comes natural to the residents of Pittsburgh, and I’m looking forward to the challenge that this coalition presents,” said Pittsburgh, PA Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

“There could be no more pressing a time than today, to invoke the talent and spirit of Americans in a comprehensive volunteerism movement,” said Providence, RI Mayor David Cicilline.

“Service is the backbone of our country and one of the best ways people can get involved to make a difference in their community. I am honored to be a part of the vision set forth at this summit. My hope is that this vision will help inspire people to get involved and lend a hand to making their cities a better place to live,” said Sacramento, CA Mayor Kevin Johnson.

“Volunteers serve our community in many ways. To combat domestic violence and gang activity, our police academies this summer engaged children, parents, and grandparents. Our advisory board for the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training recruited more employers and our Mortgage Foreclosure Mitigation Task Force has helped people see how they can save their homes. Voluntary service is growing – and in the spirit of 9-11, it will grow further,” said Trenton, NJ Mayor Douglas H. Palmer.

“As the Mayor of Vicksburg, Mississippi, I seize the opportunity to partner with other coalition members to allow the exchange of ideas to advance volunteerism. I, along with mayors of the southern region, am eager to promote our wonderful communities and share our diverse offerings. Our respective communities will benefit when we rise above political partisanship and focus on the singular vision of giving back,” said Vicksburg, MS Mayor Paul Winfield.

“The District of Columbia is proud to join the Cities of Service Coalition on the eve of the National Day of Service. The District is committed to creating greater service opportunities through the city’s cabinet-level service agency, Serve DC, in an effort to strengthen and promote the spirit of service through volunteerism and partnerships like this one launched today,” said Washington, DC Mayor Adrien Fenty.

“The Cities of Service program provides the opportunity to enrich one’s soul by doing good for others and the community,” West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Frankel.

The Coalition and Summit Agenda

Cities of Service reflects the mayors’ belief that healthy, vibrant cities are those whose citizens volunteer their time and talent to keep communities strong and help neighbors in need. To support Cities of Service, the Rockefeller Foundation will provide generous lead support to The Fund for Cities of Service, which will support member mayors and their local efforts to increase service. Specifically, The Fund for Cities of Service will support the development of effective local service strategies, facilitate the dissemination of best practices between cities working to increase service, promote accountability within the service field, articulate policy proposals, and promote partnerships between city halls and local universities, which can bring resources, evaluation, and other expertise to bear in local communities. A key goal for The Fund for Cities of Service during the next six months will be to award grants to ten cities, on a competitive basis, to hire Chief Service Officers to lead local planning and implementation. New York City became the first city in the nation to appoint a Chief Service Officer this summer. Bloomberg Philanthropies is also supporting The Fund for Cities of Service.

“The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to help America’s mayors bring Senator Edward Kennedy’s Serve America Act and legacy of service to their own communities,” said Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin. “As president of the University of Pennsylvania, I saw how a local institution’s commitment to civic engagement can save a neighborhood. With the Rockefeller Foundation’s support, Cities of Service will help local leaders across the country tap into similar engines of expertise, opportunity, and economic expansion.”

The Cities of Service coalition will lead a multi-year effort to engage other mayors from across the country by:

Developing a comprehensive service plan and a coordinated strategy focused on matching volunteers and established community partners to the areas of greatest local need;Working with other mayors and elected officials to advance strategies and best practices that accelerate the service movement and produce measurable results;Encouraging other mayors to join this national effort to engage our citizens; and Ensuring that the voice of cities is heard in federal legislative, policy, and program discussions related to service, which will help the country achieve the ambitious goals of the Serve America Act.The bipartisan coalition will be open to other mayors who sign onto the Declaration of Service; they can do so by visiting www.citiesofservice.org. The coalition is also supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and a number of nonprofit and advocacy organizations including Service Nation, HandsOn Network, and the American Association of Retired Persons. Representatives from each organization have been assisting the Cities of Service coalition and were present at the summit.

At Gracie Mansion, Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis, IN and current Vice Chair for the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, gave a presentation on the Serve America Act. The mayors then heard from an expert panel that included HandsOn Network Co-Founder and President Michelle Nunn, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Executive Director Gail Nayowith, and New York City Chief Service Office Diahann Billings-Burford.

The I PARTICIPATE Campaign

After the summit, the mayors joined leaders from the Entertainment Industry Foundation and celebrities in Times Square to launch the ground-breaking, multi-year I PARTICIPATE campaign, which will engage the entertainment industry in promoting a new way of thinking about service and encouraging more Americans to volunteer regularly. To jumpstart the campaign, Entertainment Industry President and CEO Lisa Paulsen and stars Tyler Perry and Ashton Kutcher announced its 2009 centerpiece: a week-long television event running from October 19th to October 26th, when television shows on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and other networks will spotlight service through scripted programming, segments and Public Service Announcements with inspirational messages and storylines about volunteerism. Randy Jackson (Fox), Christine Baranski (CBS), Tim Daly (ABC) and Michelle Trachtenberg (NBC) also participated in the announcement. Additional information about I PARTICPATE can be found at www.iparticipate.org. Lisa Paulsen and Ashton Kutcher also spoke to the mayors at the Gracie Mansion summit.

“The whole entertainment industry is stepping forward to encourage more Americans to volunteer in communities around the country,” said Entertainment Industry President and CEO Lisa Paulsen. “And mayors are stepping forward to connect those volunteers to local opportunities to make a difference. This is a tremendous collaboration that we hope will grow America’s service movement in new and critically important ways,” said Entertainment Industry President and CEO Lisa Paulsen.