The US Conference of Mayors (USCM) Winter Meeting was held in Washington, DC in January. The keynote speaker on the first day of the conference was President-elect Michael Pence who brought greetings from the President-elect and the Transition Team. Over 300 mayors from across the country attended. GRC is a member of the Business Council for the USCM.
At the working session on “Summer Jobs Plus – How to Create Summer Jobs Programming that Leads to Long Term Youth Employment, GRC heard from mayors Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago, James Kenney of Philadelphia, and Greg Fischer of Louisville on the success stories generated in their cities. In these programs, thousands of young people are employed for 5 to 8 weeks during the summer with the opportunity to make money, expand their network of contacts, and learn valuable life and professional skills. In many of these programs, the summer employees work to clean up graffiti vandalism and/or to install a mural project as a strategy to prevent graffiti. GRC is working towards development of specific “model” practices that can be developed for cleaning graffiti vandalism and coordinating a street mural in order to encourage other communities to incorporate graffiti vandalism cleanup in their summer jobs programs.
GRC also connected with Mayor Jonathon Rothschild of Tucson, Arizona. In 2016, GRC contributed a grant to the Tucson Arts Brigade for the development of 6 murals on trash dumpsters around the city of Tucson. These trash dumpsters were in locations that typically tagged in high volumes. According to Mayor Rothschild, these dumpsters remain very clean today – demonstrating that murals or street art is a viable strategy for preventing graffiti vandalism.
During the meetings, the Wells Fargo Corporation, also a Business Council Member announced the 2017 CommunityWins Grant Program which provides significant grant awards to cities that address neighborhood stabilization, economic development, or job creation. Neighborhood stabilization includes projects designed to stimulate growth, stability, and assist in removing blight and rebuilding communities. GRC is hopeful that it will be able to assist cities in applying for this grant in order to direct additional resources to cleaning up graffiti vandalism and installing street art and murals to beautify and prevent graffiti. The grant application deadline is March 17, 2017 and the winner will be announced at the 85th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, Florida, in June.