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City of Little Rock Public Relations
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Contact(s):Meg Matthews
(501) 371-4421

Friday, October 19, 2012

City Awarded $100,000 Grant for Childhood Obesity Initiative

Media Contact:

Meg Matthews, Public Relations Manager




Grant funds, provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will support expansion of “impact volunteering” initiatives to tackle childhood obesity at 8 Little Rock School District Elementary Schools in Little Rock


October 19, 2012, Little Rock, AR - Cities of Service announced that it has awarded the City of Little Rock a $100,000 grant to implement an expansion of a service initiative designed to address childhood obesity. Little Rock is one of 18 U.S. cities to be awarded a grant to support mayors who are harnessing the power of volunteers in a strategic way to address priority problems in their communities.


“I am delighted to accept this grant on behalf of the City of Little Rock, one of 18 awarded nationally, which will give the City the opportunity to expand its Love Your School Childhood Obesity Intervention to eight elementary schools with over 3,000 students in grades Pre-K through 5th,” said Little Rock Mayor, Mark Stodola.  “Our goal in launching this Pilot Initiative in 2 elementary schools in the 2011-2012 academic year was simple and straightforward: prove that a well-conceived, citizen-led effort would move the needle in our fight against childhood obesity. This new grant validates our approach and supports our efforts to reduce the percentage of elementary school children categorized as overweight or obese by one third in the coming calendar year.” 


For 2013-2015, Little Rock will be adding programs and services to its Love Your School portfolio that engages students, school staff, parents and caregivers and the nearby community in increased access to healthy living opportunities.


 “As mayor, I am committed to fostering a city culture in which civic engagement and volunteerism is in our DNA. This grant will help us leverage the power of our citizens to strategically and measurably address childhood obesity and its causes in Little Rock,” added Stodola.


Little Rock Serves was established in September 2010 as the result of a two-year City of Service Leadership Grant - awarded by Cities of Service, with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation leading to the hiring of the city’s first Chief Service Officer, Michael Drake. Little Rock Serves is the flagship organization that provides support, leadership and guidance to 3 Mayoral-identified Pressing Community Needs:  Childhood Obesity; Neighborhood Stabilization and Environmental Stewardship, all of which are addressed by a Mayoral-led service initiative found in Little Rock Serves High Impact Service Plan entitled Love Your School (LYS) (see  LYS is an elementary school-based obesity intervention that addresses food deserts, food insecurity, improved access to physical activity through joint-use of school-city resources, creating safe places safe for children and families to live surrounding all schools, and improved nutrition instruction for children and families. 


The Cities of Service model focuses on “impact volunteering” – volunteer strategies that target community needs, employs evidence-based practices, and sets clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress. Dozens of cities across the nation have adopted the model since its introduction in 2009. Using this approach, New York City has coated more than 4 million square feet of rooftops to reduce carbon emissions by 745 metric tons, Nashville has upgraded more than 240 homes to increase energy efficiency and help the city recover from historic floods, and Pittsburgh has removed 20,000 pounds of litter to revitalize its neighborhoods.


The $100,000 City of Little Rock grant will go towards supporting 14 VISTA volunteers who will be assigned to the 8 Love Your School partner elementary schools to: build and manage 300 new school-based gardens; oversee students walking programs; assist with staging Cooking Matters/Shopping Matters classes for parents of students enrolled in the 8 partner elementary schools; schedule free after-school, in-school Zumba classes for approximately 400 school teaching staff; manage in-school nutrition curriculum supports; oversee in-the-classroom container gardens for pre-K through 5th grade students; and, build neighborhood capacity to support 8 new student-led Farmers Markets located on partner school sites in Fall, 2013.


More than 60 mayors competed for this initial round of grants. Grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 will also support volunteer initiatives in Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Birmingham, AL; Duluth, MN; Fall River, MA; Flint, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; Nashville, TN; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pierre, SD; Pittsburgh, PA; Providence, RI; and Richmond, CA.


Backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund is a $2 million fund. Nearly $1 million is being granted through this initial round, with an additional $1 million available for deployment in 2013. Grantee cities were selected based on the quality of their initiatives, potential for impact, and implementation plans, among other criteria.


About Cities of Service


American cities face serious challenges and many mayors want to take advantage of every resource available to them – including the time and energy of public-spirited residents – to address those challenges. But in cities across America today, citizen service is often an underutilized or inefficiently utilized strategy by municipal governments. Founded in September 2009, Cities of Service supports mayors to leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective. 

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