SERVE Philadelphia will make it easier for Philadelphians of every age to volunteer and support both public and private sector efforts to engage volunteers in ways that have the greatest impact.
Philadelphia, September 27– Today, Mayor Michael A. Nutter released SERVE Philadelphia, a comprehensive plan to dramatically increase service and volunteerism targeted at some of Philadelphia’s most pressing local challenges. Philadelphia is a member of the Cities of Service coalition and is one of 10 cities across the country launching citywide service plans this month. SERVE Philadelphia is the product of an eight-month assessment and consultation process coordinated by Deputy Chief of Staff Jordan Schwartz and Chief Service Officer Catie C. Wolfgang. The process engaged a diverse group of service experts, non-profit organizations, schools, colleges, private sector partners, public agencies and every day citizens.
SERVE Philadelphia has three main goals:
• Create or elevate volunteer opportunities that impact educational outcomes and contribute to community vitality;
• Make it easier for citizens of every age to volunteer; and
• Support both public and private sector efforts to engage more volunteers in ways that have the greatest impact.
“As Philadelphians, we have always been committed to helping our fellow citizens. I am deeply proud of the ethic of service that permeates our city,” said Mayor Nutter. “Whether it’s our network of 6,000 block captains dedicated to supporting their communities, the outpouring of volunteers for Philly’s Annual Spring Clean-Up, the generosity of City government employees who tutor children on their lunch hour or the thousands of citizens who volunteer regularly in support of issues they care about, Philadelphians have always found meaningful ways to help one another. SERVE Philadelphia will build on this great tradition by strategically engaging volunteers to make Philadelphia a safer, greener, healthier and more educated city.”
David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center and former director of the Corporation for National and Community Service, welcomed more than 200 individuals to the Constitution Center for the official launch of SERVE Philadelphia.
Fellow Pennsylvania Mayors and Cities of Service coalition members from Easton, Pottsville, Reading and Scranton joined Mayor Nutter at the launch of SERVE Philadelphia. Together they welcomed the state’s newest mayor to sign the coalition’s Declaration of Service, Thomas M. Leighton of Wilkes Barre. A total of nine Pennsylvania cities are members of Cities of Service.
“We are very proud to launch SERVE Philadelphia, which we believe will bring about an increased commitment to service and volunteering across the city,” said Chief Service Officer Catie C. Wolfgang. “It is clear that Philadelphians are ready to jump in and support the initiatives outlined in the City’s plan and I very much look forward to working alongside them in making Philadelphia one of the best cities in the country to serve.”
The launch event featured a panel discussion on the role that citizens play in supporting City government efforts to improve educational outcomes and support community vitality. Panelists included the following City officials: Israel Colon, Director of Multicultural Affairs; Jordan Harris, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Youth Commission; Dr. Lori Shorr, Chief Education Officer; and Carlton Williams, Deputy Commissioner of the Streets Department.
SERVE Philadelphia includes five impact initiatives designed to promote community vitality and engage citizens in supporting the Mayor’s top education goals, specifically increasing the city’s high school graduation rate to 80% by 2015 and doubling the percentage of college graduates from 18% to 36% by 2018. The plan also includes five cross cutting initiatives designed to increase the City’s overall capacity to engage more volunteers in ways that have the greatest impact.
About Cities of Service
Founded in New York City on September 10, 2009 by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other member cities, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have answered the historic Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act’s call to action. All coalition members have signed a “Declaration of Service,” committing to work together to lead a multi-year effort to expand community service and volunteerism 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 coalition has rapidly grown since its inception in September and now includes more than 100 mayors representing more than 47 million Americans across the nation.
About Cities of Service Leadership Grants
The first round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, were awarded in January 2010. The selected cities were Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; Savannah, GA; and Seattle, WA. The grants are used to hire Chief Service Officers, senior city officials who develop and implement citywide plans to increase volunteerism and target volunteers to address their city’s greatest needs. All ten cities are launching comprehensive service plans this month to address problems of critical need in their communities.
The second round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, were awarded in June 2010 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.
More information about the coalition can be found at http://www.citiesofservice.org.
About the National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents. The Center serves as a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues. The museum dramatically tells the story of the Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits, film, photographs, text, sculpture and artifacts, and features a powerful, award-winning theatrical performance, “Freedom Rising”. The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for national constitutional education. Also, as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents – without endorsement – programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues. For more information, call 215.409.6700 or visit http://www.constitutioncenter.org.