Richmond one of seven U.S. cities awarded grant to revitalize neighborhoods

Richmond one of seven U.S. cities awarded grant to revitalize neighborhoods
Volunteers, city employees and nonprofits gathered to improve the Richmond Greenway Jan. 19, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

Local neighborhood revitalization projects just got a boost after Richmond was named Wednesday as one of seven U.S. cities to win a $30,000 Love Your Block grant.

Cities of Service, a coalition of 200 mayors aiming to improve their communities through volunteerism, said the AmeriCorps VISTA Love Your Block grant will guide Mayor Tom Butt and city staff on how to leverage volunteers, nonprofits and local businesses on local projects that address blight.

Along with $30,000, the city will receive a dedicated full-time AmeriCorps VISTA member to help implement the Cities of Service’s Love Your Blockblueprint” in Richmond.

Grants were awarded following a competitive process, and winners joining Richmond include Birmingham, Ala.; Boston, Lansing, Mich.; Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Seattle.

Butt and city staff will reportedly use the grant to forward revitalization projects in Parchester and North Richmond, according to the Cities of Service statement. It was noted that Richmond over the last two years has been a shining example of community involvement, with massive volunteer efforts rebuilding parks, playgrounds and continuing improvements along the Richmond Greenway.

“The program supports our efforts to engage Richmond citizens and groups in our underserved communities and to scale existing neighborhood revitalization projects,” Butt said in the statement.

Love Your Block is credited with clearing Pittsburgh’s streets of 34,927 pounds of litter and creating 256 green spaces. The city did so by leveraging about $559,160 in donations and organizing 4,865 volunteers. Meanwhile, Flint, Mich., revitalized 120 blocks between 2012 and last year by creating 173 green spaces, improving 400 blighted properties and removing 3.9 million pound of trash, brush and waste.