The Richmond Love Your Block Initiative is a high-impact service strategy that strives to beautify the Richmond community through revitalization projects funded by competitive mini-grants. By encouraging coordination with city officials, city services, local organizations, and community members on these projects, Love Your Block aims to strengthen the relationship between City Hall and the community to improve neighborhood health and safety and to foster a resilient resident volunteer base.
Every day, we see what is possible when the innovative leadership of local government leverages and supports the people power of local nonproﬁts and communities. Love Your Block, a tested, high-impact service strategy in which cities engage community members in revitalizing their neighborhoods one block at a time, is one way to achieve this measurable impact.
With Love Your Block in Richmond, the Community Services Department provides competitive mini-grants to community groups to carry out local revitalization projects, from converting an empty lot into a community garden to removing graffiti from the walls of a local community center. The impact of this work is improved neighborhood health and safety as well as a resilient resident volunteer base that can respond nimbly to any crisis. The Community Services Department is the key driver of success for Love Your Block – and the city in turn benefits by developing a closer understanding of local level projects.
The Community Services Department engages residents and local organizations to apply for mini-grants to solve local neighborhood revitalization challenges. The individuals and organizations who win these mini-grants mobilize residents to complete the projects. To support this work, the Community Services Department coordinates city services to aid in execution.
The mini-grants encourage neighborhood groups to identify priority projects and develop volunteer-fueled solutions. Common components of local projects include vacant lot clean up, litter and graffiti removal, tree planting, and community garden development. Common city government services provided include pothole repair and litter basket replacement.
The grants competition should be advertised broadly to ensure that all communities have access. Cities may find it useful to seek a balance between projects that would require significant levels of agency resources, guidance and coaching from the department working with grant recipients, and those that can operate with greater self-sufficiency. Cities should also look for geographic diversity to ensure a broad reach.
Well-tended public spaces create a better quality of life that attracts tax-paying businesses and residents to communities. Experts consider such spaces to be essential to creating sustainable communities. Run-down, litter-strewn spaces, however, signal lawlessness and lack of community spirit that can lead to crime and other negative behaviors. Engaged communities are far less likely to let their neighborhoods fall into poor conditions and can act as a powerful force in preventing crime.
Want to Tell Us About Your Neighborhood?
The City of Richmond's impact volunteering program, Richmond ESC (Excellence Serving our Community) wants to know how you will Love Your Block. Towards this end, we invite the community to complete our survey, which will help us gauge the needs of the Richmond community with regard to volunteer-led neighborhood revitalization projects.
The survey should only take two minutes of your time. Your name will be entered in a raffle for a prize following submission.