Chula Vista Serves: Mayor Cheryl Cox Launches Campaign to Promote Volunteerism in City of Chula Vista

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Chief Service Officer Wanda Bailey directs impact volunteer efforts focused on education and community health and wellness.

Mayor Cheryl Cox Chula Vista Serves

Mayor Cheryl Cox announces launch of Chula Vista Serves

Our ability to make lasting change through service is invaluable to the long-term success of our city – we all have a stake in our future.

Mayor Cheryl Cox today announced the launch of Chula Vista Serves, the city’s high-impact service plan that leverages citizen service strategies to address two priority community needs: stronger educational outcomes and improved health and wellness of city residents. The campaign is designed to promote impact volunteerism while increasing civic engagement by residents and aligning volunteers with existing and new service opportunities within Chula Vista.

“Our ability to make lasting change through service is invaluable to the long-term success of our city – we all have a stake in our future,” said Cox. “This is Chula Vista’s Centennial year. Celebration of this milestone is a perfect opportunity for residents to strengthen our community with their time and talents.”

The two-year plan is supported by a Cities of Service Leadership Grant that is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation. This grant allowed the City to appoint its first Chief Service Officer, Wanda Lee Bailey, former Executive Director of Volunteer San Diego, the region’s largest volunteer management organization.

Bailey said the project will focus on developing volunteer efforts in the areas of education and community wellness. Specifically, the plan is focused on implementing service strategies to help increase graduation rates as well as lower chronic disease and obesity rates. These two areas were identified as critical community needs that, if addressed, will have a long-term benefit for the wellbeing of our community. Consistent with impact volunteering strategies, Chula Vista is using best practices and has set clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress against the targeted community needs.

“By creating systems and partnerships that address a small number of identified issue areas, we can learn how to engage the community in new, high-impact ways,” said Bailey. “We can leverage the work of many existing groups and organizations, focus our efforts and raise awareness of an issue area, thereby creating a combined impact that is greater than all of our individual efforts.”    

Chula Vista is one of three California cities, along with Los Angeles and Sacramento, to receive a Cities of Service Leadership Grant. California Volunteers, the state office that manages programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Californians engaged in service, also supports Chula Vista’s efforts.

“California is at the forefront of the service movement and we are thrilled that Chula Vista accepted the challenge to find innovative ways to leverage service as a strategy for addressing critical community needs,” said Secretary of Service and Volunteering, Karen Baker. “The economic downturn has forced the nonprofit sector to do more with less, and with cities like Chula Vista stepping forward to engage volunteers in pressing issues, we will help tackle some very difficult challenges in education, healthcare, poverty and other areas.”

Challenge Areas:
One of Chula Vista’s priority need areas is education – with a specific focus on increasing the high school graduation rate. The Graduation Works! Campaign will focus on four service strategies to improve graduation outcomes in Chula Vista and address the need to foster a vital community that is educated and prepared.

These four strategies include:

  • Graduation Coaches, which encourages adults to pledge to be a “Graduation Coach” for a significant young person in their life, supporting this student through graduation and exposing them to college and career pathways;
  • Classroom Opportunities, which asks community volunteers to help implement Junior Achievement’s curriculum in at least one classroom in each of our local middle and high schools;
  • Mentoring Opportunities, which focuses on increasing mentor relationships with youth – which has been tied to better attendance, a better chance of going on to higher education, and better attitudes toward school; and
  • Graduation Dialogue, supported by West Ed, which convenes community volunteer leaders from the business, government, and education sectors to discuss ways in which educational opportunities can be strengthened in Chula Vista.

Chula Vista’s other priority need area is health and wellness – specific challenges include access to services, prevention of chronic diseases, and reduction of obesity levels.

The Community Health Connection Campaign will focus on a service strategy that engages volunteers to help connect residents with available resources, as well as create innovative strategies to address the health and well being of our residents. Plans are underway to create a Community Volunteer Corps that will create and operate programming focused on encouraging and supporting residents to engage in healthy lifestyles/behaviors as well as develop projects that would support these same priorities.

Effective volunteer engagement will be fostered through the Centennial Year of Service campaign, in which residents will be challenged to serve through existing and new opportunities. For example, the “Love Your Block” service strategy, supported by The Home Depot Foundation, will offer community members the opportunity to revitalize their neighborhoods one block at a time through a small grants competition that aims to reduce blight and instill neighborhood pride. In addition, organizations that lead volunteers will be supported to effectively engage volunteers.

More details can be found in the service plan published on the Chula Vista Serves website cvserves.org.

The first phase of the website is live as of today, featuring a PDF version of the service plan. In partnership with Volunteer San Diego, Chula Vista Serves will work to develop and manage a one-stop-shop for Chula Vistans interested in connecting with volunteer opportunities. CVServes.org will promote service campaigns outlined in the service plan and enable residents to engage in a wider range of volunteer opportunities designed to have a positive impact on the community.

Plans to increase volunteer opportunities on the website are underway, and service organizations are encouraged to contact the Chula Vista Serves office for more information about how to register opportunities.

Residents without access to a computer can learn about volunteer opportunities through the region’s existing 211 phone line.

Chula Vista Serves recognizes the San Diego Workforce Partnership, Junior Achievement, Chula Vista Community Collaborative, South Bay Family YMCA, The San Diego Foundation, Sharp Chula Vista, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County, County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency, Chula Vista Elementary School District, Chula Vista Family Health Center, South Bay Community Services and Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation for their input and support.

About Chula Vista Serves
Launched in March 2011 in partnership with the City of Chula Vista and Cities of Service, Chula Vista Serves is a campaign to engage residents in targeted volunteer efforts that address pressing community needs through impact volunteerism. The initial areas of focus are education and community health and wellness. For more information about Chula Vista Serves and to read the service plan, visit cvserves.org.

About Cities of Service
Founded in New York City on September 10, 2009 by 17 mayors from cities around the nation, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have committed to work together to engage citizens in a multi-year effort to address pressing city needs through impact volunteerism. The coalition includes more than 100 mayors, representing more than 49 million Americans across the nation.

Cities of Service supports mayors to leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective. All Cities of Service efforts are characterized by a concept called “impact volunteering” – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress.

About Cities of Service Leadership Grants
In June 2010, the second round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, were awarded to Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Chula Vista, CA; Houston, TX; Little Rock, AR; Orlando, FL; Pittsburgh, PA; and Richmond, VA. As with the first round, these two-year grants enable cities to hire Chief Service Officers responsible for developing and implementing high-impact service plans.

The first round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, were awarded in January 2010 to Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; Savannah, GA; and Seattle, WA. These ten cities launched high-impact service plans in September 2010.

The first high-impact service plan was developed by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg when he created NYC Service and hired the nation’s first Chief Service Officer in 2009.

More information about the coalition can be found at http://www.citiesofservice.org.

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