Love Your Block brings mayors together with citizens to revitalize their neighborhoods, one block at a time. From painting over graffiti with colorful murals to banishing trash from playgrounds, citizen volunteers are combating urban blight and making their blocks better places to live.
For its 2018 City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Love Your Block program, Cities of Service awarded each winning city $25,000 to be used for mini-grants and resources to support the efforts of citizen groups and local nonprofits to fight property blight through home repairs, lot transformations, and community cleanups. In addition, two AmeriCorps VISTA members serve in each winning city’s city hall to build capacity and raise awareness. The program is made possible with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
A recent study by the Urban Institute found that the connection that Love Your Block forges between city leaders and citizens at the neighborhood level can be one of the most important catalysts for collective action by neighborhood residents. This connection between city officials and citizens boosts the social capital exercised by citizens who plan and implement Love Your Block projects and strengthens social cohesion. Love Your Block volunteers believe their efforts also positively influence public safety and community ownership of public spaces.
Cities of Service launched the first City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA program in 2015 in Birmingham, Alabama; Boston, Massachusetts; Lansing, Michigan; Phoenix, Arizona; Richmond, California; and Seattle, Washington.
Since 2009, Cities of Service has helped dozens of cities implement Love Your Block. More than 9,000 community members have revitalized more than 2,200 blocks, including removing 5.6 million pounds of trash, creating 900 art displays, cleaning 60,000 square feet of graffiti, repairing over 70,000 square feet of community space, and maintaining over 730,000 square feet of public space.
Love Your Block is so successful that additional coalition cities have chosen to implement the Love Your Block Blueprint on their own, without grant funding from Cities of Service.