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Experience Matters for Livability

With support from AARP, Cities of Service awards $150,000 to six cities for a program that will call upon the talents and expertise of people age 50+

In pursuit of the shared goal of creating communities that engage residents and are livable for people of all ages, AARP is partnering with Cities of Service, a nonprofit organization that helps mayors build stronger cities by changing the way local government and citizens work together.

Working in partnership with AARP, the Cities of Service Experience Matters program will operate out of City Hall in each of the following cities:

Experience Matters 

With support from AARP, Cities of Service will work with six cities to develop volunteering initiatives that engage older adults in efforts to address public problems related to the drivers of poverty. 

Each city will receive $25,000, technical assistance, and two full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members based in City Hall who will build capacity and raise awareness for the initiatives. AmeriCorps VISTA members are part of a national network of service programs dedicated to addressing critical community needs and fostering civic engagement.

In addition to providing funding and technical assistance to the cities throughout the duration of the program, Cities of Service helps recruit and select AmeriCorps VISTA members, provides pre-program training in its citizen engagement model, assists with project design, offers expert and peer-learning opportunities through site visits and convenings, and promotes projects to encourage replication of best practices by other cities. 

The Cities

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Volunteers will tutor students in the city’s public schools and early childhood learning centers to help develop the children's literacy skills and ability to read at grade-level. 

Birmingham, Alabama: To reduce the amount of money homeowners are spending on utilities as well as code violation fines, resident volunteers will help their neighbors make minor home and property repairs that will increase energy efficiency and also conform to local housing codes. 

“Based on AARP’s work in hundreds of communities nationwide, we know that older adults can bring tremendous value to the places they live. This partnership with Cities of Service and the programs in these cities will not only enhance the quality of life for residents of all ages but will also demonstrate the results that cities can see when they tap the experience and expertise of people 50-plus.”

 Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer 

Columbia, South Carolina: Serving as mentors, volunteers will work to build the types of strong relationships that enable students to improve their academic performance and earn a high school diploma.

Fort Worth, Texas: Resident volunteers will educate low-income families on topics including financial health, managing credit and debt, and the dangers of predatory financial services. 

Saint Paul, Minnesota: To reduce the amount of money homeowners spend on water as well as on code violation fines, resident volunteers will help their neighbors make minor home and property repairs and reduce excess water usage.

Tulsa, Oklahoma: Citizen volunteers will offer financial security workshops and coaching to older adults with limited incomes in order to increase self-employment skills and opportunities. 

An Additional Opportunity

New York City: Cities of Service is also recruiting for an Experience Matters VISTA Leader to be based in Cities of Service’s headquarters. The selected applicant will work in support of the 12 AmeriCorps VISTA members who will be helping deliver the Experience Matters program in each of the six cities listed above. 

Engaging Examples

Download or order Engaging the Community to Create Community, a free 16-page publication by AARP and Cities of Service.

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