FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CITY OF ORLANDO RECOGNIZED FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL CAREER COACHING PROGRAM IN NATIONAL CITIES OF SERVICE CONTEST
“Path Finders” is One of Four New Cities of Service Blueprints Outlining Steps for City Halls to Leverage Citizen Volunteers to Improve Local Life
ORLANDO, Fla., December 17, 2014 – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer today announced that the city’s strategy to help middle school students make deeper connections between their education and career paths has been recognized as a runner-up in the Cities of Service Blueprint Contest. Orlando is a member of Cities of Service, a New York-based national nonprofit that supports mayors to engage citizen volunteers in solving specific urban challenges and to effectively implement service strategies that can be widely replicated.
As a runner-up, Orlando will receive $5,000 and its Path Finders blueprint is now published in the Cities of Service online resource library. The grand prize winner, Nashville, Tenn., will receive $35,000, first runner-up Albuquerque, NM will receive $12,000 and runner-up Philadelphia also will receive $5,000, in addition to their blueprints also being published. Further detail about the winning blueprints appears below and online. All Cities of Service coalition members can receive technical assistance and support to bring these and other blueprints to life in their cities.
“Path Finders is one of many programs in which our business and community leaders are serving as citizen volunteers and helping our youth find their way to future careers,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. “I’m am honored by Cities of Service’s recognition of the city’s collaboration with our citizens who volunteer and use their time and talents to help us solve community challenges and make our City a better and brighter place for everyone.”
Path Finders is a six-week afterschool program through which local business employees volunteer to coach middle school students in academic and career planning. Student participants also receive mentoring and engage in guided self-exploration and Junior Achievement curriculum. Among participating students, outcomes have included no reported incidences of juvenile crime, improved grades and better school attendance. Eighty-eight percent of students reported increased desire to graduate from high school.
“At Cities of Service, we know that the best ideas come from the field – where community and local government leaders are recognizing the power of citizen volunteers to make a difference in collaborative, innovative ways,” said Myung J. Lee, Cities of Service Executive Director. “Cities of Service Blueprints capture the strongest programs and partnerships and allow more cities to apply those best practices, significantly increasing the potential for impact.”
Other Winning Cities
In addition to Orlando, the cities of Albuquerque, NM; Nashville, Tenn., and Philadelphia were recognized:
Albuquerque, N.M.: Through Mayor Richard J. Berry’s Homework Diner initiative, students, accompanied by their parents/caregivers, gather at a public school one evening a week to receive tutoring and homework assistance. Upon completion of the homework session, volunteers serve a meal to participants, prepared by culinary students with food that is donated through a partnership with a local food bank to minimize program costs. In the first year of the program, teachers reported an increase in homework completed, and 95% reported an increase in academic performance of participating students in the classroom.
Nashville, Tennessee: After torrential rains caused unprecedented river cresting and flooding in May 2010, the City of Nashville brought together multiple agencies, volunteer and local conservation organizations that together have mitigated more than 2,520,000 gallons of storm water and planted more than 7,300 trees and 60 rain gardens across the city. Thousands of volunteers have assessed more than 200 miles of waterways and cleaned 30 miles of waterways, removing 294 tons of trash and debris to date. Nashville citizen volunteers continue to green the city to create a more resilient infrastructure. The steps leading this widespread coordination and impact are outlined in the Storm Busters blueprint.
Philadelphia: Through Mayor Michael Nutter’s Waste Watchers sustainability initiative, the city recruited and trained more than 1,000 volunteers to help attendees and spectators at major public events separate waste into trash, recycling, and compost receptacles. Waste Watchers achieved an 87.5% waste diversion rate at the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon, which subsequently received a Gold Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport in the following years. Because of its success, Waste Watchers is now a part of four additional major events in the city.
Among other resources provided by Cities of Service, blueprints offer necessary steps for cities to effectively partner with nonprofit and community-based organizations, leveraging citizen volunteers to measurably improve local life. All of the winning blueprints can be applied to common problems facing cities and prioritize volunteers and producing measurable impact – versus participation – as central to success, along with city-level leadership to meaningfully address issues.
About Cities of Service
Cities of Service is a national nonprofit that supports mayors to design and implement high-impact service strategies that can be replicated in cities worldwide. It provides technical assistance, programmatic support, planning resources, and funding opportunities. Founded by Michael R. Bloomberg in 2009, Cities of Service currently supports a coalition of 200 cities in the U.S. and UK whose mayors are committed to engaging citizen volunteers to solve local pressing challenges, from increasing high school graduation rates to improving energy efficiency in buildings. Cities of Service helps coalition cities share solutions, best practices, and lessons learned, as well as spreads awareness about the great work happening in cities. Join us at citiesofservice.org, and follow @citiesofservice on Twitter.