Coming Together for Change
A Qualitative Study of Social Connectedness Outcomes Produced by the Love Your Block Program
The Cities of Service Love Your Block (LYB) program connects mayors’ offices with community residents to revitalize their neighborhoods one block at a time. City officials use LYB funding to encourage community groups to identify priority projects and develop volunteer-fueled solutions. Cities of Service has helped cities implement Love Your Block programs since 2009. In 2015, Cities of Service launched the Love Your Block AmeriCorps VISTA program, which awarded $30,000 grants and two AmeriCorps VISTA members each to mayors’ offices in Birmingham, Alabama; Boston, Massachusetts; Lansing, Michigan; Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; Richmond, California; and Seattle, Washington. This study examines three projects that were funded by LYB “mini-grants” and conducted in target neighborhoods in Boston, Lansing, and Phoenix during the program’s first year.
Cities of Service commissioned this study to better understand how the LYB program affects the social connectedness of the residents and communities involved in LYB mini-grant projects, as well as how social connectedness outcomes might relate to impact outcomes, such as public safety. In addition, Cities of Service seeks to know more about how residents’ relationships with city officials change because of LYB and how these relationships might help produce social connectedness and tangible impact outcomes.
This report begins by describing the Cities of Service’s approach to civic engagement, providing an overview of the national LYB program across seven cities, and by defining the research questions and methodology which drove this study. The report goes on to describe each of the three study sites and the social networks attached to them. From there, the report presents data on social connectedness outcomes produced by the Love Your Block program. The report then describes how these shorter-term social connectedness outcomes may relate to short- and long-term impact on public safety as well as residents sense of community ownership and respect for public spaces. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for Cities of Service.