Made possible with generous support from the Walmart Foundation, the Cities of Service Prepared Together program helped seven cities engage citizen volunteers in initiatives that made cities more resilient to weather-related disasters. Beginning in 2017, Cities of Service provided a $25,000 grant and program consulting services, and placed two AmeriCorps VISTA members* in each city for one year.
City governments worked side by side with citizens to address two major problems: flooding and extreme heat.
Many of the participating cities have antiquated sewage and drainage systems and are covered largely with impervious surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt, leading to increased risk of flooding. Others face extreme heat and wildfires, as well as hurricanes and heavy rains. In many cities, low-income communities are located in flood-prone areas with insufficient resources and support to deal with extreme weather.
Cities of Service also embedded AmeriCorps VISTA members in city halls. These full-time volunteers, often recent college graduates, focused on low-income communities and served as local preparedness ambassadors. With this additional capacity, cities were able to better equip low-income communities to withstand disasters and extreme weather events.
Together, city leaders and citizens built green infrastructure such as rain gardens, planted trees, installed rain barrels, and cleaned waterways and storm drains. Some cities painted cool roofs — roofs painted white to reflect rather than absorb heat from the sun — and increased their tree canopy to reduce energy usage and extreme heat. Several also coordinated green jobs trainings and emergency response trainings. The result is a stronger city infrastructure and citizens that are better prepared for disaster.
- 462 storm drains adopted
- 263 trees planted to help absorb stormwater and reduce heat
- More than 11,000 citizen volunteers
- More than 12,000 people trained in emergency preparedness
*No AmeriCorps VISTA members were placed in the City of San Leandro.