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  • Cities of Service will support the City of Detroit, alongside two other cities, in building local capacity and increasing citizen engagement

 The City of Detroit will receive $100,000 in grant funding, along with consulting services and other assistance from Cities of Service, to support the installation of a Chief Service Officer. The Chief Service Officer is a senior-level administration staff member who will plan, direct, coordinate, and evaluate the implementation of a comprehensive, citywide service plan that engages citizen volunteers in communities where they can have significant impact.

Supported with $450,000 from JPMorgan Chase, Cities of Service is establishing a new cohort of Chief Service Officers in three major US cities, selected through a competitive review process. Detroit is one of the selected cities, along with Miami and Phoenix. The chosen Chief Service Officer for Detroit is Victoria Kovari, who previously served as General Manager for Mayor Mike Duggan’s Department of Neighborhoods. Victoria Kovari will combine her two roles as General Manager and Chief Service Officer in order to strengthen the city’s neighborhoods by engaging citizens.

The Chief Service Officer role is instrumental in building the city’s capacity to address its most pressing challenges. The role serves as a champion for citizen volunteers, a voice for the mayor, a partner to city agencies, and a conduit for businesses and community groups. This model has been proven in multiple cities, including in Orlando, where a 2010 Cities of Service Leadership Grant helped the city launch Orlando Cares, which features six volunteer programs developed with community input. Since 2011, these programs have resulted in more than 6,310 youth served, more than 2,200 volunteers engaged, and more than 35 community partnerships.

“Chief Service Officers are force multipliers, forging relationships and engaging partners across sectors to help local government address their city’s most pressing problems,” said Cities of Service Executive Director Myung J. Lee. “The support from JPMorgan Chase will enable us to help Detroit, Miami, and Phoenix partner with residents to tackle some of their cities’ major challenges, including hunger, school success, and urban blight.”

In Detroit, Kovari will leverage the strength of the Department of Neighborhoods to coordinate all community engagement and volunteering activities in the city, aiming to reduce blight and prevent crime. She will lead the city’s efforts to further engage Detroit’s citizens, including partnering with neighborhood leaders, clergy, youth, educators, and small business owners to determine which volunteering initiatives will have the greatest positive impact on quality of life in the city.

“We thank Cities of Service for its commitment to helping Detroit meet its challenges,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “This grant, made possible with support from JPMorgan Chase, will go a long way to helping our citizens get more engaged, leading to stronger neighborhoods and a more active community.”

About Cities of Service

Founded in September 2009 in New York City by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service is a national nonprofit organization that supports mayors and city chief executives in their efforts to engage local communities and residents, identify challenges, and solve problems together. Today, the Cities of Service coalition is comprised of over 215 cities in the US and UK, representing nearly 55 million people in 45 states, and more than 10 million people in the UK. Cities of Service works with cities to build city-led, citizen-powered initiatives that target specific needs, achieve long-term and measurable outcomes, improve the quality of life for residents, and build stronger cities. To find out more about Cities of Service, visit our website at http://www.citiesofservice.org, like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/citiesofservice, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CitiesofService.

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