Lynchburg, VA // Community Organizing for Action Against Poverty


For a community grappling with a 24% poverty rate, City leaders knew it would take a collaborative, concrete plan of action to reduce the number of families living in poverty.

After gathering the public during a community meeting, leaders discovered that over 500 residents were willing to lend a hand, but didn’t know where to begin. Cities Reimagined worked with the Mayor to answer the question, “how do we use this many helping hands in a way that we can track and measure?”

Approach

Cities Reimagined customized EmpowerCity, a web based tool that serves as a central hub to organize and mobilize individuals toward a community goal. The City’s custom site, EmpowerLynchburg, connected community volunteers with one-time tasks aimed at reducing poverty. This system matched volunteers with a task based on their areas of interest and highest need. Tasks like, “fill the Clay Street little free pantry” or “fill a prisoner re-entry backpack” could be completed by anyone in the City who was willing to help. When a volunteer signed up to complete a task, they were automatically connected with the task organizer who provided step by step instructions on completing the task.

Results

This web based tool filled a critical gap by acting as a central hub to organize and mobilize individuals who were ready to lend a helping hand. It eliminated silos between non-profit organizations and community volunteers. Second, this tool provided valuable data on impact, demographics, and volunteerism.