Love Your Block
Love Your Block
Love Your Block
Every day, mayors and the cities they serve struggle with the negative impacts that vacant, abandoned, and deteriorating properties have on neighborhoods and the people living in them. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these problems, particularly for communities in economically distressed areas. Cities were not only at the forefront in responding to the pandemic, but they feel the impacts of COVID-19 today and for years to come. To help mayors and city chief executives address these daunting problems, the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins is pleased to announce that applications are open for Love Your Block, an impact volunteering grant program supporting volunteer-fueled projects that address local public problems. This grant program focuses on supporting cities to partner with community groups and activate resident volunteers to repair, remediate, and address blight in their neighborhoods. Blighted properties include, but are not limited to, single-family homes, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, vacant lots, parks, and other public spaces.
About the Love Your Block Program
The Love Your Block program brings city leaders and residents together to build stronger neighborhoods, one block at a time. Typically, cities implementing Love Your Block invite community groups to identify priority projects and award mini-grants to support neighborhood-driven solutions that the community can implement. From turning vacant lots into community gardens to helping elderly neighbors with home repairs to avoid fines and safely age in place, resident volunteers are “loving their blocks” and making them, and their cities, better places to live.
The benefits of Love Your Block go well beyond physical improvements. Urban Institute found in the 2021 Love Your Block Study that social networks sparked by deep resident-to-city-hall engagement can instigate neighborhood-level improvements in addition to larger, sustainable improvements to municipal practices and policies. Love Your Block activates and builds social networks between residents, their neighbors, and city hall. This resident-to-city hall engagement can lead to collective efficacy that is often bidirectional. City officials can leverage neighborhood social capital in service of mayoral goals and residents can leverage greater responsiveness from officials to address their needs and priorities. In other words, Love Your Block is a starting point for cities to more meaningfully engage their residents to help improve their communities in holistic and sustainable ways.
Previously offered by Cities of Service, Love Your Block is now offered by the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation which oversees all CIties of Service programming. Cities of Service was founded in 2009 by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg now operates a coalition of more than 300 cities, representing more than millions of people across the Americas and Europe. You can learn more about Cities of Service at citiesofservice.jhu.edu and by following the program on social media platforms @citiesofservice.
Since its founding, Cities of Service has helped cities implement change through the use of its impact volunteering strategy. This signature strategy engages resident volunteers to identify and solve pressing public problems alongside municipal government. It is a participatory process in which residents and city officials develop a shared vision, set short- and long-term goals for their community, and then work together to achieve those goals. As partners, they communicate throughout the process and reflect on their work – discussing and evaluating what they have done and holding themselves accountable for results.
Love Your Block is based on the Cities of Service Love Your Block Blueprint and builds on the experience and lessons learned from thirteen years of program implementation in fifty cities around the country. In collaboration with the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Love Your Block furthers the principles of an anti-poverty focus, community empowerment, sustainable solutions, and capacity building to exemplify transformation in communities. Click here to learn more about AmeriCorps.