Love Your Block

Eligibility & Application Instructions

This opportunity is an open invitation to all U.S. cities and Native American tribal communities that meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • U.S. cities with a population of at least 30,000 (population requirement may not be applicable for Native American tribal communities)
  • The capacity to recruit for and manage a Love Your Block Fellow for a two-year fellowship 
  • The capacity to recruit and manage an AmeriCorps VISTA member each year of the grant program
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. Projects should:
    • Elevate the voices of historically-excluded groups
    • Reflect community-driven solutions
    • Meaningfully engage local partners
    • Recognize residents as assets and as leaders in this work
    • Meet residents where they are 

Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m.PM Eastern Time on November 17, 2023. Cities will be notified of decisions on or around December 18, 2023.  Cities previously participating in Love Your Block programs are not eligible to apply.

For more information about Love Your Block, please contact

Additional Information

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Award Benefits

Over the two years of the grant term, selected cities will receive: 

  • $40,000 in funding for program implementation and volunteer-led mini-grant projects.
  • $60,000 in funding to support a local, full-time Love Your Block Fellow from the community. The Love Your Block Fellow must have strong ties to the community being served (i.e., current resident or a previous longtime resident with active ties to the neighborhood) and have a track record of building local relationships.
  • One (1) AmeriCorps VISTA member each year to support city leaders in engaging low-income community members in this work.  AmeriCorps VISTA members’  time must be used in accordance with the core principles of the VISTA program.
  • High-touch training, coaching services, and programmatic support from the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins.
  • Peer-to-peer learning with current and former Love Your Block grantee cities.
  • Invitations to annual convening.
  • Recognition as a Love Your Block grantee city in the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation collateral, including on social media, the Center website and other media.
    Selection Criteria

    Up to twenty (20) cities and Native American  tribal communities will be selected to participate in Love Your Block. Applications judged on criteria including but not limited to:


    • The nature of the public problem the city is trying to solve and how it is related to  blight and vacant and abandoned properties.
    • The readiness of the Mayor and city team to accept the Love Your Block grant and related supports and engage in the program.
    • How the proposed impact volunteering initiative will tackle the challenge. We are looking for initiatives that tie to larger city strategies meant to address the public problem, or are tackling the problem in innovative ways that are supported by impacted residents and other stakeholders.
    • The role of resident volunteers. We are looking for cities to engage volunteers within the neighborhoods of focus. In addition, we are looking for initiatives that engage volunteers early in the project design stage as well as during implementation and evaluation. We are looking for cities to engage volunteers for their time as well as lived experiences and skills.
    • The role and level of engagement of the city chief executive/tribal leader and relevant city/tribal  agencies and departments.
    • The specific neighborhoods that will be the focus of the initiative. We are looking for demonstrated involvement of neighborhood-specific stakeholders in the proposed initiative or commitment to doing so during the grant period.
    • The proposed roles for the AmeriCorps VISTA member(s) and Love Your Block Fellow and how the city will support them in their work.
    • Demonstrated commitment to tracking critical measures to demonstrate impact.
    Use of Funds

    Awarded cities will be expected to use funds in accordance with the intentions of the Love Your Block program and for direct support of the impact volunteering initiatives.

    • Fellowship grant funds are restricted to the direct compensation of the identified Love Your Block Fellow.  
    • Acceptable use of project implementation grant funds includes, among others, costs associated with engaging volunteers in:
      • Activating vacant lots or empty storefronts/buildings
      • Neighborhood clean-ups
      • Transforming vacant lots into vibrant community spaces
      • Educational outreach and skills-based support for individuals and community groups
      • Basic code compliance repairs for homes
      • Compensating local partners

    The Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation grant funds may not support:

    • Services covered by existing city infrastructure, such as standard trash collection and staff salaries
    • Rent or utilities
    • 501(c)(3) incorporation fees
    • Speaker honorariums
    • Improvement projects that primarily serve churches and/or other religious organizations 
    • Scholarships or other direct support to individuals or families
    • Partisan political organizations,  political candidates, fundraisers, or projects
    • Events such as block parties, conferences, festivals, dinners, sports competitions, art exhibits, and fundraisers (e.g. dinners, walks/runs/relays, golf tournaments, and auctions) unless directly in service to the larger strategic initiative 
    • Capital campaigns, endowments, or endowed chairs