May 20, 2017
Love Your Block, a grant program offered by NYC Service in partnership with Citizens Committee for New York City, awards 25 $1,000 cash grants to resident-led community groups in all five boroughs and links them to City Services to transform a public space in their neighborhood; 2017 grant recipients were announced in December 2016
NEW YORK— The de Blasio Administration and Citizens Committee of NYC are celebrating the 2017 Love Your Block season in the Bronx today, highlighting first-time Love Your Block Awardee, College Avenue Block Association as they revitalize a transformed garden lot adjacent to 487 College Avenue.
Today’s event is one of 25 resident-led volunteer projects in 20 communities across the five boroughs taking place this spring and summer. Through the support of the 2017 Love Your Block grant award – which includes a $1,000 cash grant, project planning assistance, and City services from the Departments of Parks, Transportation, Environmental Protection, and Sanitation – these 25 community-led groups are empowered to enhance and beautify public spaces in their neighborhoods.
“I want to recognize the College Avenue Block Association in the Bronx as well as all of the recipients of the 2017 Love Your Block awards and thank them for engaging residents to create change in our communities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are beautifying our City while deepening our relationships with communities across the five boroughs and empowering residents with the tools to organize and engage others in their neighborhood to revitalize public spaces. I want to thank NYC Service, Citizens Committee for New York City, and our City agencies for partnering with residents to encourage civic engagement and make City services more accessible to all New Yorkers.”
“Love Your Block is about connecting NYC residents to resources as they work together to strengthen our City at the neighborhood level,” said New York City Chief Service Officer Paula Gavin. “We are thrilled to catalyze a spirit of volunteerism throughout the City by partnering with residents to improve our communities one block at a time and we are proud to recognize and support College Avenue Block Association for their leadership. We thank Citizens Committee and our City agency partners for their continued partnership as well as Citi and the New York Community Trust for their support of this important community initiative.”
“Block associations just like the College Avenue Block Association here in Melrose as well as so many others across the country are the building blocks of good neighborhoods, turning neighbors into friends and bringing people of every kind together,” said Peter H. Kostmayer, CEO of Citizen’s Committee for NYC. “College Avenue Block Association and the great Bronxites who have brought us together today have our thanks and congratulations.”
“There are so many reasons to be proud of being a New Yorker,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “Today’s recipients of the Love Your Block Award embody that pride with their passion and commitment to improving our neighborhoods. The Assembly proudly supports these individuals and their efforts to improve our communities, which is why we have dedicated $375,000 to help continue this mission. Together with NYC Service and Citizens Committee, these recipients are giving New Yorkers yet another reason to be proud to call New York City home.”
College Avenue Block Association works to increase neighborhood green spaces by transforming abandoned lots and community spaces into gardens in an effort to improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents. Today’s project includes reseeding the lawn, organizing donated compost, painting garden beds, and planting flowers.
College Avenue Block Association joins more than 270 resident-led community groups across the City awarded Love Your Block grants over the last nine years. Since 2009, $295,000 in cash grants have been awarded, over 900 City services provided, and nearly 10,000 community volunteers have been engaged in beautification projects across all five boroughs.
“Within the past year, the once empty lot on College Ave has been transformed into the beautiful College Ave Garden of Hope that it is today,” said Wanda Swinney, President of College Avenue Block Association. “The garden is not just about planting seeds in the ground, it’s about the relationships and connections created in the community. The beauty is about bringing people together through educational programs and job training in the new College Ave Garden of Hope. It’s also to develop awareness, motivation, and encouragement because it takes a community to raise a child. This spring, everyone in the community will take part of the Love Your Block Day. We are truly grateful to Citizens Committee of New York City and NYC Service for awarding the College Ave Block Association its first-ever Love Your Block grant.”
Love Your Block follows the model of a national program offered by Cities of Service and is made possible through the generous support of Citi and the New York Community Trust. The goal of Love Your Block is to engage communities in neighborhood revitalization efforts benefiting low-income areas. Approximately 84 percent of the 2017 Love Your Block award recipients (21 out of 25) are based in neighborhoods below NYC’s median household income of $55,752.
In addition to financial support and connection to City services, grantees participate in workshops detailing the basics of community organizing, navigating City government, grassroots fundraising, and media tools. As a result, these organizations are more sustainable and better equipped to access City resources moving forward.
“Our partnership with NYC Service and the Citizens Committee for New York City is helping to revitalize local communities and create green spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy,” said Ed Skyler, Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs at Citi. “We are proud to support the hard work of so many dedicated volunteers who devote their time to improve New York City's neighborhoods.”
“The Department of Sanitation is pleased to acknowledge the College Avenue Block Association as one of the 2017 Love Your Block Highlighted Neighborhood Groups for its intention to transform an abandoned lot into a beautiful and thriving community garden for residents to enjoy,” said Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia . “Sanitation is proud to support this group and any other civic organization that takes the time and effort to initiate projects that invest in the betterment of their neighborhoods.”
“It’s always inspiring to see community members volunteer and take pride in caring for their neighborhood’s public spaces,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Volunteers are the backbone of the more than 500 community gardens across our city, which not only improve air quality and bio-diversity, but serve as meeting places and sources of relaxation. NYC Parks is proud to support the Love Your Block initiative in public spaces citywide and see another community garden come to life.”
About NYC Service
NYC Service, a division of the Office of the Mayor, promotes volunteerism, engages New Yorkers in service, builds volunteer capacity and mobilizes the power of volunteers and national service members to impact New York City's greatest needs. To learn more about NYC Service and connect to volunteer opportunities across New York City, visit nyc.gov/service.
About Citizens Committee for New York City
Citizens Committee for New York City’s mission is simple: to help New Yorkers – especially those in low-income areas – come together and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Residents are uniquely situated to define and act on the issues affecting their communities. When provided with modest support, neighborhood and school groups can effectively mobilize community resources to improve quality of life. Citizens Committee for New York City supports these grassroots efforts by offering grants, skills-building workshops and further technical support in the form of project planning assistance and an equipment share library. In 2016, we provided 421 projects with $1.6 million in grants and services, and our staff facilitated 30 workshops to over 500 social entrepreneurs. Since 1975, we have promoted the spirit of volunteerism, local engagement and social justice that drives our work. Visit us online at citizensnyc.org.