(PITTSBURGH) September 28, 2012 Fresh from a Downtown service project, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today at a pep rally in the City-County Building lobby energized 400 who this month began their year of service volunteering at local schools and non-profit organizations in Pittsburgh. As Mayor Ravenstahl’s citizen-service initiative servePGH grows to impact more youths, seniors and neighborhoods, the number of Americorps volunteers impacting Pittsburgh has also increased.
“Citizen service is a quality-of-life strategy that we’ve deployed in Pittsburgh that, in a short time, has shown real results,” Ravenstahl said. “From the thousands of volunteers who have helped shovel their neighbors’ sidewalks, beautify a vacant lot, or mentor a child – to the hundreds of Americorps volunteers who will touch more lives this year, Pittsburgh is truly fortunate to have such a great number of service-oriented young men and women who are committed to making our City even more livable. It’s important that we come together as a City to celebrate and recognize their commitment and dedication.”
At the rally, Mayor Ravenstahl welcomed the new members – most of whom are from other cities – and led them in the AmeriCorps Pledge. Earlier in the day, AmeriCorps members completed a service project involving the cleanup of several blocks within the Cultural District. Pittsburgh’s gathering showed the City’s appreciation for each member’s decision to dedicate a year of their lives to full-time service, and to fire up AmeriCorps members for their upcoming service year.
Mayor Ravenstahl is the first mayor to access national service resources on behalf of the City of Pittsburgh, and has six AmeriCorps VISTA members serving in his Office of Service and Civic Engagement, which runs servePGH. In 2011 alone, 120 Pittsburgh organizations were served by AmeriCorps members, including mentoring agencies, community groups and start-ups. Members assisted 8,720 low-income residents including job training services, case management and home repairs, and raised $1,520,859 in monetary and in-kind donations. Their direct economic impact on the City during 2011 was $2,353,401.
AmeriCorps members from the following programs were in attendance:
KEYS Service Corps
Pittsburgh Health Corps
Change a Heart
Mayor Ravenstahl’s servePGH
HandsOn Tech Pittsburgh
North Hills Community Outreach
Pennsylvania Campus Compact
Braddock Youth Project
By obtaining a Cities of Service grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Rockefeller Foundation, Mayor Ravenstahl launched servePGH in March 2011 to engage Pittsburgh’s citizens in service and to answer President Obama’s national call to volunteerism. Through eight new and innovative servePGH initiatives, the Mayor has engaged thousands of citizens in volunteer-fueled solutions to revitalize 200 City blocks, restore vulnerable residents’ homes, help middle-school youth navigate life’s challenges, clean up over 21,760 pounds of litter, and more. Over 2,800 volunteers have committed over 29,902 hours of service through servePGH to date. Additional information is available at pittsburghpa.gov/servepgh.
AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 men and women in intensive service each year through more than 15,000 nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. AmeriCorps members tutor and mentor youth, build affordable housing, assist veterans and military families, provide health services, run after-school programs, help communities respond to disasters and build the capacity of nonprofit groups to become self-sustaining, among many other activities. AmeriCorps members in recent years have stepped up their role in recruiting, training, and managing volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, supporting 3.4 million community volunteers in 2011 alone. In exchange for a year of full-time service, members earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award that can be used to pay for college or graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans. Since 1994, more than 775,000 Americans have given 1 billion hours of service through AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
About the Corporation for National and Community Service:
The City of Pittsburgh is grateful to the Corporation for National & Community Service for their support of the servePGH initiative. Mayor Ravenstahl's Office of Service and Civic Engagement hosts six AmeriCorps VISTA members to support the initiative's eight programs.