Volunteer Initiatives Program

About Us

What is the Volunteer Initiatives Program?
Since 2004, the Volunteer Initiatives Program has linked thousands of volunteers to almost every city department, including the Houston Public Library, Mayor's Office, Public Works, and the Houston Police Department. Whereas, Houston SERVICE is the local movement of the national Cities of Service coalition to utilize volunteers to address the city’s greatest needs and the priorities of our mayor.  In addition to impacting the highest needs Houston SERVICE will increase volunteerism and raise the standards of volunteerism across our community.

“What is today a great and growing network must tomorrow become a national movement of citizen activism.” Dr. Judith Rodin, President Rockefeller Foundation.

What is Cities of Service?
Mayor Annise Parker joined the Cities of Service Coalition on February 3, 2010. Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have committed to work together to lead a multi-year effort to expand impact volunteerism. Founded by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other member cities in September 2009, the coalition has rapidly grown and now includes 110 mayors, representing more than 47 million Americans across the nation.

American cities face serious challenges and many mayors want to take advantage of every resource available to them, including the time and energy of public spirited residents, to address those challenges. However, in cities across America today, citizen service is an often inefficiently utilized strategy by municipal governments. Cities of Service supports mayors to leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective.

Each of the twenty grantee cities shares a passionate, dedicated citizenry and engaged future-moving leadership. Here’s how the coalition members are improving their communities:

  • helping to boost volunteerism and launching innovative service pilot programs
  • creating partnerships between local government, businesses, and universities to increase the dedication to-and effectiveness of-community service
  • providing communities with the tools to encourage economic recovery

Chief Service Officers and their service teams are measuring and achieving impact and together are changing the face of our nations, one community at a time.

What are Houston’s priority areas?
Youth mentoring and veteran mentoring assistance and CPR outreach are the three priority areas that the Service Plan will focus on in the next coming months. Youth mentoring will address both in the highest area of need. The veterans’ initiatives are heeding the needs of a classically undeserved population and offer peer to peer assistance. Additional initiatives may be added in summer 2011 and additional priority areas may be added in the arena of public safety and health.

How is the Volunteer Initiatives Program different than the HandsOn Network?
The Volunteer Initiatives Program will focus on volunteering within the City of Houston. With the current downsizing in municipal governments across the country, volunteers (our greatest strength) can serve our highest needs despite economic challenges. Houston SERVICE will address very focused initiatives that will move the needle in areas that need improving. By being pro-active, the success of these initiatives will save the city money and create a stronger, more vibrant community.

Is this a short term initiative?
The Volunteer Initiatives Program is the beginning of a sustained movement of engaged citizenry. Our city, and our nation, will always have needs that volunteers can assist with regardless of the economic landscape. The Volunteer Initiatives Program team will work with local partners to leverage funding to keep the movement vibrant throughout the current administration and beyond.

How can I get involved?
If you are a volunteer, go to www.houstontx.gov/volunteer or www.houstonservice.org.  If you are a non-profit agency or a business, contact Katherine Price at 832.393.0971 or email volunteer@houstontx.gov.