It was a great honor yesterday for the Taproot Foundation and some of our pro bono consultants to be guests at the Mayor’s event to unveil NYC Service – the first city in the nation to really embrace the President’s call to service. At the event yesterday the Mayor outlined a plan that goes beyond just addressing the simple wins and seeks to make courageous changes that will require a lot of political capital and will be challenging to implement.
The most impressive part of his plan is a new requirement to have service be a part of every school in the city – no exceptions. As he said, service will be part of the DNA of every New Yorker. This is revolutionary and will not be easy to pull off given all the other mandates in education. Joel Klein, Chancellor of the NYC Dept. of Education, was there to back up the Mayor, and if this is doable, those are the two leaders to make it happen.
The plan also calls for investment in nonprofit capacity to engage volunteers. Bloomberg shared that one in three volunteers are turned away from nonprofits in NYC due to those organizations’ limited capacity. He clearly listened to the field and understood that you can’t rally the city to serve unless there are places that both need them and can engage these volunteers effectively.
He ended his plan with a clear call for accountability for service in the city. This too is novel as service is usually not elevated to a level of importance to focus on making it accountable. It sends a clear message about how Bloomberg sees the role of service in the success of the city over the next few decades and beyond. To this end, he is appointing a senior executive to manage the NYC Service department at City Hall.
Now that is leadership. I hope it serves as a model for dozens of mayors from across the country.