Civic Engagement describes how individuals and groups work together for the common cause of making a difference in the community. Shortly after his election in January 2010, Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. and the City of Birmingham, Alabama became an active participant in the Cities of Service Coalition, which is a bipartisan group of Mayors who have committed to work together and lead a multi-year effort to expand impact volunteerism as they address their cities’ most critical issues. As a member, it is Mayor Bell’s goal to implement impact volunteer strategies that:
- Identify priorities and use volunteers to target a community’s critical needs;
- Engage the city’s corporate citizens and business community to play a more active role;
- Use best practices to maximize results and program sustainability; and
- Set clear outcomes and standards to gauge the city’s progress.
In October 2012, Cities of Service announced awards of nearly $1 million to help cities implement high impact volunteer driven initiatives. The City of Birmingham was one of 18 cities selected to receive this award. This award fueled the redevelopment of Mayor Bell’s Civic Engagement strategy – a component of RISE, a comprehensive community sustainability strategy. RISE combines community and economic development; promotes civic engagement and workforce development; and leverages public/private partnership as a strategy to positively impact and strengthen the City of Birmingham. RISE addresses the following four (4) areas of development and engagement:
- Community Development
- Economic Development
- Workforce Development
- Civic Engagement
The mission of the RISE civic engagement strategy is: (1) to provide opportunities for individuals, community service groups, faith-based organizations and corporate service groups to engage in meaningful service projects that breathe new life into Birmingham’s neighborhoods, (2) improve the lives of our residents and promote growth and activity throughout the city and (3) to provide public/private partnership opportunities that increase Birmingham’s overall capacity to engage more volunteers and use collaborative resources to enhance our city’s parks and neighborhoods.