(BIRMINGHAM) On Thursday, September 11th, Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. and the City of Birmingham will kick-off its annual Empowerment Week festivities. During Empowerment Week the City pauses to recognize the progress made in the area of civil rights and ultimately the human rights movement. The week of activities will commence with a city-wide day of Service where residents and corporate citizens are encouraged to actively participate in service projects across the city.
On September 11th Mayor Bell will also announce a comprehensive civic engagement plan that encourages individuals and groups work together for the common cause of making a difference in the community. This plan is a part of the RISE strategy. RISE combines community and economic development; promotes civic engagement and workforce development; and leverages public/private partnership as a strategy to positively impact and strengthen the City of Birmingham. RISE addresses the following four (4) areas of development and engagement:
- Community Development
- Economic Development
- Workforce Development
- Civic Engagement
As a part of the Civic Engagement plan, Mayor Bell plans to implement impact volunteer strategies that:
- Identify priorities and use volunteers to target a community’s critical needs;
- Engage the city’s corporate citizens and business community to play a more active role;
- Use best practices to maximize results and program sustainability; and
- Set clear outcomes and standards to gauge the city’s progress.
The mission of the RISE civic engagement strategy is: (1) to provide opportunities for individuals, community service groups, faith-based organizations and corporate service groups to engage in meaningful service projects that breathe new life into Birmingham’s neighborhoods, (2) improve the lives of our residents and promote growth and activity across throughout the city; and (3) To provide public/private partnership opportunities that increase Birmingham’s overall capacity to engage more volunteers and use collaborative resources to enhance our city’s parks and neighborhoods. The RISE civic engagement strategy includes the following programs and initiatives:
One to One – Neighbor Helping Neighbor is designed to get corporate citizens, neighborhood groups, schools, and other community organizations involved in preserving and enhancing the city’s parks and neighborhoods. Adoption Partners and their members take part in routine volunteer projects such as trash pick-up and graffiti removal and may also assist with larger special projects such as mulching, plantings, bench construction, painting and other work.
Love Your Block is a neighborhood revitalization and beautification initiative where neighborhoods are selected based on application standards which identify a community’s need that can be addressed through volunteer service projects with the goal of creating neighborhood pride and volunteerism. In 2013, mini-grants of up to $1,500 were awarded to 10 neighborhoods. In 2014, almost $20,000 has been awarded to 17 neighborhoods.
Birmingham C.A.R.E.S. (Citizens in Action Ready to Engage in Service) – The Mayor’s Office partners with residents, community organizations, faith based organizations and the business community to plan and implement the MLK Day of Service – Coincides with the federal holiday in January and Empowerment Week Day of Service (September 11th). On each of these days more than 2,000 volunteers will spread across Birmingham to help improve neighborhoods, parks, libraries and more.
Each of the RISE Civic Engagement initiatives work in concert to stimulate community revitalization, growth and pride; provide more family friendly and affordable housing solutions for residents; as well as ignite a boom of economic development in this city that is unprecedented and unparalleled. This initiative provides an opportunity for residents and local volunteers to partner with the City of Birmingham to transform blighted areas into community assets. In doing so, the City will:
- create a safe environment for families to thrive;
- residents will become more empowered and exhibit a better sense of pride in their community;
- neighbors will work together and more closely with the City to address and solve community needs; and attract business to the area
Through the design and implementation of RISE, Mayor Bell has engaged a diverse group of nonprofit organizations, grassroots community groups, faith-based communities, the Birmingham City Schools, other private schools, local colleges and universities and the business community in the process of working together – with sweat equity and community reinvestment to build the best Birmingham ever. The initiatives outlined in RISE capitalize on the City’s strong service infrastructure and is supported by a dynamic combination of partners committed to community reinvestment and collaboration.
For information, please go to www.birminghamal.gov