(PITTSBURGH) March 20, 2013 Yesterday, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl joined community members and volunteers to celebrate the second anniversary of his service initiative, servePGH. Mayor Ravenstahl released servePGH’s second annual report to the community, which highlights the program’s successes and charts the course for 2013-2014, which will engage even more resident volunteers to help tackle the City’s most pressing challenges. The celebration also included the completion of a Love Your Block revitalization project in the Elliott neighborhood.
“I am extremely proud of the great strides our City has accomplished together through servePGH over the last two years,” Ravenstahl said. “Today is a celebration and true testament of how much we can accomplish when partnerships are built between businesses, organizations, local government and community members. It is my hope that this celebration will inspire even more residents to join our efforts and work alongside us as we continue to tackle our City’s greatest challenges.”
In just two years, Mayor Ravenstahl’s servePGH initiative has doubled from five to 10 robust service programs tackling high-priority City challenges, ranging from reducing blight to mentoring youths to providing fresh produce to underserved neighborhoods. To date, servePGH has engaged 3,700 volunteers in 32,000 hours of service, revitalized over 600 City blocks, removed 35,600 pounds of litter from City streets, and weatherized and repaired over 70 homes of veteran, senior and disabled residents.
In 2013, Mayor Ravenstahl will continue to mobilize volunteers and serve an even broader group of Pittsburgh residents and communities with the addition of new youth and green initiatives.
With additional supportive partnerships, in 2013 the Mayor expects to:
- plant 10-15 edible gardens in targeted “food deserts” throughout the City to harvest 2,000 pounds of fresh produce for 200 families, through the new Green Up Pittsburgh: Edible Gardens program.
- recruit 500 adults to become Promise Coaches to guide Pittsburgh’s young residents toward educational success.
- coat 50,000 sq. ft. of City-owned rooftops with reflective paint to reduce the City’s carbon emissions by 45 metric tons and decrease electricity usage in coated buildings by 10-15 percent, through the new Cool Roofs program.
- complete 50 high impact revitalization projects and engage 1,500 volunteers, including at least 250 veterans, through Love Your Block.
- establish 30 new Redd Up Zones, bringing the total to 100 Redd Up Zones in the City.
- repair over 70 homes through the Sustainable Home Improvement Partnership by engaging over 700 volunteers.
- remain the number one employer partner for the Be a 6th Grade Mentor program and increase mentorship by 30 percent through the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative.
- educate 75 community leaders about City government through the Civic Leadership Academy.
- recognize 52 outstanding volunteer residents and organizations with Citizen Service Awards.
Mayor Ravenstahl's servePGH is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service and AmeriCorps VISTA. Mayor Ravenstahl's Office of Service and Civic Engagement hosts six AmeriCorps VISTA members to support the initiative's ten programs.
Read Mayor Ravenstahl’s servePGH Year Two Report to the Community, or learn more about or volunteer with servePGH, at pittsburghpa.gov/servePGH.
Before the celebration event, more than two dozen volunteers mulched, cleaned up and prepared a garden site on Lorenz Avenue for spring cleaning. The site, in Elliott, was a former Love Your Block project, when volunteers – with the help of City services and a $500 grant from The Home Depot Foundation – transformed a vacant lot into a community garden.
Mayor Ravenstahl launched servePGH in March 2011 to engage Pittsburgh’s citizens in service and answer President Obama’s national call to volunteerism. ServePGH is funded by a competitive Cities of Service Leadership Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation – along with private foundation, government and corporate grants – and is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service and AmeriCorps VISTA. In total, servePGH has secured $1.3 million in funding sources.
ABOUT CITIES OF SERVICE
Mayor Ravenstahl is a founding member of Cities of Service, a bipartisan coalition of more than 150 mayors from across the country dedicated to engaging more Americans in community service and harnessing the power of volunteers as a strategy to address local challenges. Founded in New York City, the coalition and its member cities respond to the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act's historic call to action by finding new and innovative ways to harness the power of volunteers to help solve pressing local challenges.
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. AmeriCorps VISTA members commit to serve full-time for one year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency, working to fight illiteracy, improve health services, create businesses and strengthen community groups, with the ultimate goal to eliminate poverty in the United States. In Pennsylvania, there are currently over 200 VISTAs serving on 30 projects.