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Cities of Service

Submission by Nicole Miller:

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Cities of Service initiative, but in short: it was started by a coalition of mayors across the country to “find new and innovative ways to harness the power of volunteers to help solve pressing local challenges.”  Participating cities also have the opportunity to apply for grants: The Cities of Service Leadership Grants provide recipient cities with $200,000 over a two-year period to hire a Chief Service Officer, a senior city official dedicated to developing and implementing a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and target volunteers to address their city’s greatest needs.

Sound like something Buffalo could use?  Yes.  Buffalo is actually listed under coalition members.  They just aren’t one of the leadership cities.  So it’s more a matter of them applying for the grants, participating in, and using the coalition to the best of their abilities.  As in, they could still do the volunteer site as per Philadelphia to harness volunteer power, etc.  I sent the following e-mail to the Mayor’s office on February 5th, with no response as of yet:


I am a lifetime resident of Buffalo, but a long time lover of the city of Philadelphia.  Since I go there frequently, I like to keep up to date on what they’re doing there and I’m completely intrigued and enthused by their involvement in the Cities of Service program.  This is something I’d love to see Buffalo involved in, it brings people together, and gives them a sense of pride and ownership over the city.  Also many people want to help make Buffalo a better place to live, just many people don’t know where to start.  The cities involved in this program form a sense of direction, not to mention become eligible for a variety of grants.  I’d love to see Buffalo become more progressive and start getting in on these things.  Please check out the website to see what’s possible :  And this is the link to Philadelphia’s volunteer site :

As a resident of the city of Buffalo, thank you for your consideration.  I want to stay in the city and build a family here eventually, but I think its clear to all of us here that things need to change.  And maybe this is a start.

Best Regards,
Nicole Miller

Maybe if we can call attention to the fact that things like this are out there, Buffalo can stop thinking of old-fashioned, rage-inducing methods of solving problems (fining people to make them recycle??) and look toward new, progressive ways as shown by this initiative taken on by thriving cities across the nation. Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia made Sustainability one of the city’s top initiatives in their plan.

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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