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NYC Service Strategic Plan: Bridging Solutions and People Power

In reflecting on the impact of service in New York City over the last 15 years and bridging to the future of service, we are steadfast in our mission to provide meaningful access, opportunity, and resources for communities to come together and answer the call to serve New York City. The people of our city are united in service, furthering the culture of uplifting one another, and taking responsibility for our city’s success.

Icon of NYC Service Strategic Plan 

View the full strategic plan online for the history of NYC Service, legacy programs, and innovations in service. 

The Case for Service 

New York City is a global city, where economic, political, and societal conditions impact a diverse population of 8.3 million people. Global and national ties are felt deeply within our diverse and interconnected city.  With the global COVID-19 pandemic and recent national reckonings around civic, social, and racial justice, NYC Service has a unique opportunity to serve as a uniting force within the New York City community.     

Several factors impact the necessity for a modernized view of service, one that is used to both address critical and immediate needs across New York City as well as addresses current local and national concerns.   

  • Bridge across political polarization, restore trust, and strengthen democracy: Political polarization has been increasing nationally, leading to historic apathy and distrust towards civic processes, and disconnection within communities. Finding common ground and reaffirming our commitment to our fellow New Yorkers’ success are vital to strengthening our democracy and civic processes.  Service gives a path to unite New Yorkers under common hopes for their communities and give them points of action to build relationships and trust outside of political processes.   
  • Heal the loneliness epidemic and transform mental health and well-being: Recent national and New York City studies show that both adults and youth are experiencing high rates of loneliness and sadness. Furthermore, life expectancy which was trending up pre-COVID-19 has dropped dramatically for New Yorkers as the result of the pandemic and the isolation it caused. Connection – for individuals and support for organizations – is key to building resilient personal and community networks that increase New Yorkers’ future success.  
  • Recover volunteer capacity for New York City’s nonprofit sector: There is a reported seven percentage point drop in formal volunteering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a deep cut to New York City’s nonprofit organizations that provide essential cultural, educational, health and social services to communities throughout the five boroughs. Recovering the volunteer force is key to supporting the diverse needs of New Yorkers and ensuring services provided to residents by the nonprofit sector are readily available in all neighborhoods. 
  • Tackle cross-cutting issues with equity and justice: From workforce development and climate to immigration and education, the issues impacting New Yorkers are diverse and broad. Global, national, and local events disproportionality harm communities of color, which represent approximately 70% of the city’s population, and exacerbates deeply rooted racial and economic disparities, as well as negatively impacts communities that have a high percentage of other health and socioeconomic disparities. The need for a whole city activation is central to get New Yorkers involved to work towards community solutions that will improve physical environments and access to services, ultimately leading to equity and justice for all New Yorkers. 

Service and volunteerism are a core form of civic engagement, inclusive of direct actions within one’s community, and extends beyond to public service, military, and national service.  Service presents the opportunity to solve many of our challenges by bridging solutions to the people that power change. 

Strategic Plan: Bridging Solutions and People Power 

Each year in New York City, there are approximately 3,500 active AmeriCorps members and more than 1.5 million people volunteering within their neighborhoods to deliver vital and urgent services. This force of volunteers and AmeriCorps members, people who love this city, are the solution to curing the loneliness epidemic, uniting people within a political divide, and investing in our future. 

To that end, NYC Service has updated our strategic plan to identify three areas where we believe service can be strengthened to engage and support the public, private, and nonprofit sectors – as well as individual residents – to join in a full city movement to bring people power into creating solutions for the city we all love so much.  We are in a historic place in time in need of connection and collaboration, and service is the uniting force to bring us to meet the moment.  

NYC Service will focus our work to create access to opportunities to serve, promote knowledge of how to approach service in practical and impactful ways, and bridge New Yorkers across all sectors to encourage and build a culture of service.  

Strategy 1 | ACCESS

NYC Service will increase the number of service opportunities for New Yorkers to ensure everyone who wants to contribute to the city has a chance to serve, opportunities are easy to access and participate in, and service contributes to people across all five boroughs. The core of our work centers on bringing people together to support each other and invest in our collective success.

Our Commitment:

  • NYC Service will directly engage 55,000 people in service annually through our programs, including volunteering and National Service.
  • NYC Service programs will deliver services to 100,000 people across New York City through service and volunteer efforts.
  • NYC Service will grow website efforts to support nonprofits, community groups, and city agencies posting 3,600 volunteer projects annually, translating into over a million service opportunities to connect with on the NYC Service website.

Strategy 2 | KNOWLEDGE

NYC Service will provide effective and robust tools to program participants and partners to build knowledge on how to engage in meaningful service that creates strategic impact, and how to foster service collaborations that are responsible and equitable to New York City neighborhoods and communities. It is our responsibility to provide tools and services that are robust and useful to our partners, at no cost to the New York City community.

Our Commitment:

  • Offer a suite of technical trainings to nonprofit and city agency partners to maximize our website functionalities and software to recruit and manage volunteers, as well as hold office hours to support users.
  • Offer online toolkits to support nonprofit and business partners to build out service programs and build effective volunteer recruitment and management practices, as well as resources to support the financial and mental health of AmeriCorps members serving across NYC.
  • Direct service programs will offer robust training and professional development to participants to help grow both practical skills and in their civic commitment.
  • Expand outreach to target organizations in or serving TRIE-identified neighborhoods and ensure access to our suite of volunteer management trainings and toolkits.
  • All NYC Service resources will have at minimum an 80% satisfaction rate from users and all teams will monitor quality implementation.

Strategy 3 | BRIDGE

NYC Service will bridge sectors through convenings to create a culture of service in every corner of our city. The heart of our city is at its best when people join together to learn from and grow with each other, and fostering collaboration around service initiatives will create bridges to unite under a common vision to expand the power of service as a change agent in New York City.

Our Commitment:

  • Bring private sector partners together quarterly through Businesses in Service, fostering opportunities to engage with city issues and nonprofit partners through volunteering, skills-based volunteering, and in-kind initiatives.
  • Align with the Mayor’s Office for Nonprofits Services network to provide information on volunteer initiatives and update on service supports available to the New York City nonprofit community.
  • Host a Youth Leadership Council Summit each year to bring youth together to connect with peers and exchange ideas over community actions.
  • Expand partnerships and resources to support the national service community in New York City and nationally.
  • Bring city agency volunteer programs together in an annual convening to create a peer network and share best practices and support city agencies through resident and skill-based volunteers from private sector partners.


When taken collectively, Access, Knowledge, and Bridging will allow NYC Service to ensure service is being used as a transformative element – one which moves volunteering beyond ‘nice’ acts into a realm of collective value and collaborative success for our city. Ultimately these strategies can lead service into a tool that promotes positive outcomes for individuals and the organizations with which we partner, contributing to community success, and a thriving city. Key factors NYC Service will look to impact in the coming years, ensuring:

  • Program participants reflect the diversity of New York City residents, and participants are able to use their service experiences to increase their post-service opportunities for careers and further civic engagement
  • NYC Service tools and programming are readily available and accessible for individuals and organizations to address meaningful needs in their communities, and especially in TRIE neighborhoods
  • Service is a tool to increase positive perceptions of our neighborhoods and the city around economic vitality, livability, and public safety
  • Service helps form connections that decrease loneliness and increase connection

The Future of Service

Service is a cornerstone to our city’s success through robust engagement and action every corner of our city.  As we continue to evolve to meet current circumstances NYC Service looks to the future to deeply embed service as a strategic tool.  To amplify our efforts, we are spearheading new initiatives to amplify volunteerism as a strategy in the city’s portfolio and engage all sectors in our collective efforts. 

Key Initiatives Launching to Engage New Yorkers and Amplify Service as a City Priority 

  • Advisory Council: The Chief Service Officer will continue to drive partnerships to implement and evaluate approaches to volunteerism. The 12-member council will represent a cross-sector of voices and engage in developing a set of recommendations to make New York City the easiest place to make an impact through volunteerism and service. 

  • Volunteers for a HealthyNYC: In partnership with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, launch a campaign to build the capacity of nonprofits and hospitals and increase opportunities to volunteer in the areas of health that contribute to healthier, longer lives for New Yorkers. 

  • National Service Leadership Council of New York City: Mobilize more than fifty National Service programs from within the five boroughs to strengthen AmeriCorps programs and enhance the member experience. The council will focus on partnerships to increase recruitment and retention, bolster professional development opportunities, and collaborate on member engagement.  

  • Youth Action Campaigns: In partnership with city agencies, including NYC Public Schools and DemocracyNYC, NYC Service will recruit high-school youth ages 14-18 to volunteer during school recess, annually for an April Youth Action Month, and National Voter Registration Day. 

  • Engaging the City’s Largest Workforce: In partnership with the Office of Labor Relations’ WorkWell and Department of Citywide Administrative Services, develop tailored campaigns to increase access to volunteer opportunities for social connection, positive health outcomes, and professional development. 

  • TeamNYC Pilot: In partnership with private sector partners at Gloat, NYC Service will expand opportunities to bring corporate volunteers to provide skills-based support to critical city agency projects – growing employee engagement to connect to NYC communities and support their own well-being and skill growth.   

  • Mayor’s Office for Nonprofit Services: Expanding alignment with the Mayor’s Office of Nonprofit Support to collaborate on supports for nonprofits through service and volunteerism and provide free resources to help nonprofits build capacity to engage everyday New Yorkers in their causes.   

For more information on the NYC Service Strategic Plan, download the full report

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