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Finance

General Government

Nashville Receives $2 Million Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Living Cities’ Fund to Help Low-Income Residents Reduce Debt, Build Assets

Nashville One of Five Cities Selected for $16.2 Million Investment

Nashville has been selected as one of five cities to receive a grant to help low-income residents reduce debt and build assets through free, one-on-one financial counseling incorporated into existing services offered in the city. The Office of Mayor Karl Dean and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville are partners in the grant funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Living Cities’ Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund.

The three-year grant will serve an estimated 5,000 Nashvillians at Financial Empowerment Centers, which will be run by United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. At the Centers, financial counselors will teach clients how to open safe and affordable checking accounts, establish a credit score, maintain a positive balance, decrease debt and maintain savings.

“These Financial Empowerment Centers will play a vital role in helping Nashville families move from poverty to financial stability,” Dean said. “Making sure individuals and families get personalized financial literacy services will help us build stronger families and a stronger community.”

The Financial Empowerment Center initiative is the latest investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Project, the government innovation program which seeks to spread proven and promising ideas among cities. Through a $16.2 million investment in Living Cities' CFE Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide grants to Nashville, along with Denver, Colo.; Lansing, Mich.; Philadelphia, Pa; and San Antonio, Texas, and enable extensive technical assistance to help each city replicate and customize the model.

“The City of Nashville has demonstrated a real desire to help families achieve long-term financial stability,” said New York City Mayor and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg. “The Mayors Project at Bloomberg Philanthropies spreads effective solutions to challenges that cities across the country are facing. We hope through this grant that the effective Financial Empowerment Center model will create measurable change for low-income residents in Nashville.”

The Financial Empowerment Centers, opening in March 2013, will be located at the Levy Place Center in east Nashville and in south Nashville at the Casa Azafran Community Center, which serves as the headquarters of Conexion Americas and other organizations that offer educational opportunities, health and wellness services and entrepreneurship training.

Satellite locations will be housed at United Way’s 18 Family Resource Centers, Metro Action Commission, Metro Social Services and state offices that provide welfare benefits through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.

Nashvillian Erik Cole will oversee the Financial Empowerment Center program out of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development. The position is funded through the Living Cities’ Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Cole has served as the executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services since 2005. In that statewide role, he coordinated with nonprofit agencies serving low-income individuals, managed large grants and worked with government and private entities. He is a former chairman of the Metro Homelessness Commission, has extensive experience with local nonprofits serving the low-income and served two terms as a member of the Metro Council.

Belmont University will provide quality training to the six United Way financial counselors who will staff the centers. Belmont Associate Professor and Nashville Poverty Council Chair Kristine LaLonde are coordinating this educational partnership and have been instrumental in her work with the team implementing this program in Nashville.

“Providing Nashville’s most at-risk residents with yet another tool to improve their finances is an important element of United Way’s rich portfolio of work in the area of Financial Stability,” said Gregg Morton, President, AT&T Southeast Region and incoming 2013 Board Chair, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.

“Financial Empowerment Centers offer much needed one-on-one counseling that allow people to get on a path to financial independence,” added Eric Dewey, President   & CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. “In combination with other United Way programs such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Bank on Music City and My Money Plan, Nashville residents will have access to all the tools necessary to lead educated, healthy and stable lives.”

Of the nearly 50 cities that applied, Nashville stood out due to its robust level of city support for this program, a strong nonprofit relationship between Mayor Dean and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, and because of Mayor Dean’s Poverty Reduction Initiative and leadership by United Way in this space within the Nashville community, among other reasons. Additionally, due to partnerships with Metro agencies and other financial stability programs, such as Ways to Work, financial counseling could improve outcomes for other partners in the community.

The Financial Empowerment Center program will build on Mayor Dean’s Poverty Reduction Initiative and the Bank on Music City program, which is a community partnership led by United Way of Metropolitan Nashville with local banks, credit unions, government and community organizations to connect individuals with safe and affordable bank accounts.

In 2008, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the City of New York would pilot Financial Empowerment Centers as part of a broad effort to test and refine new approaches to alleviating poverty. While initially privately funded, the Centers became publicly funded after their data-proven impact. Since the pilot commenced, the program has grown to nearly 30 Centers, helping more than 19,000 New Yorkers reduce their debt by more than $9 million and save more than $1 million.

“I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership on this effort,” Mayor Dean said. “He is one of the most active and progressive mayors in the country, and he continually finds innovative ways for cities to move important issues forward.”

Through the Living Cities’ CFE Fund project, services are delivered in a more cost-effective manner and better outcomes are achieved across the array of social services, by seamlessly integrating financial counseling into traditional anti-poverty efforts.

In addition to financial counseling, the model has a strong focus on integrating with other services driving toward self-sufficiency, including benefits enrollment, family stabilization services, workforce training and job placement, housing, and other supports.

To learn more about the Living Cities’ CFE Fund grants, visit www.cfefund.org. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FinancialEmpowerment.

Mayor Announces Music City Center Grand Opening Slated for May 19-20

Festivities Include Free Open House, Street Party and Concert

Mayor Karl Dean announced that the grand opening celebration for the Music City Center will take place over two days: Sunday, May 19 and Monday, May 20. The grand opening will include a free open house for the community on both days that will feature live, local music, as well as a free street party and outdoor concert on May 20. Mayor Dean will present his State of Metro address at the Music City Center at 10 a.m. on May 20 as part of the grand opening festivities.

The Monday, May 20 concert will highlight the multiple genres of music represented in Nashville, including pop, gospel, country and bluegrass. The concert also will feature performances by The Time Jumpers, the Grammy-nominated bluegrass act featuring Vince Gill; Grammy-nominated Fisk Jubilee Singers; and recent Grammy performer Mikky Ekko, a singer/songwriter who was most recently featured in Rihanna’s chart-topping duet “Stay.”  Grammy-winning artist and Nashville resident Sheryl Crow will headline the Music City Center grand opening and free outdoor concert.

“I continue to be impressed by the size and beauty of the Music City Center and encourage Nashvillians to see it for themselves during the grand opening,” Dean said. “There’s no doubt we are a city with momentum, and with the opening of the Music City Center in May, even more tourists and conventioneers will get to see that first hand. We know it’s not going to be the biggest convention facility in the country, but I’m absolutely certain it will be the best.”

Construction on the $585 million facility began in January, 2010 and will be completed on April 30. During May, furniture, fixtures and equipment will be installed, and staff training will continue. Already more than 100 meetings and 800,000 room nights have been booked.

The Music City Center totals 2.1 million square feet. That includes 1.2 million square feet of public space and a 900,000-square-foot garage, which includes 1,800 parking spaces.

Major features include a public art collection comprised of more than 80 pieces; Sixth Avenue that runs through the building; and the 57,500 square feet Grand Ballroom, which seats 6,000 people. Green features include solar panels and a green roof. The building is on track to receive LEED Silver certification.

Due to its larger size, the Music City Center will be able to host 75 percent of conventions in the country, compared to 25 percent that can currently be accommodated at the Nashville Convention Center.

The grand opening is being organized by the Mayor’s Office, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation and the Nashville Convention Center Authority.

New Nashville.Gov Website Available Now

Metro Government has launched a new and improved Nashville.gov website, the site’s first total refresh in five years. The website has been redesigned from the ground up to be more interactive, user-friendly and optimized for mobile devices.

“Whether you are a resident wanting to report a pothole or a business owner needing a permit or a visitor thinking of spending time here, the new site offers better, faster 24-hour access to information and services,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “A variety of new features will make Metro Government even more accessible and transparent to our citizens, which is important to me.”

The site has been redesigned to make every interaction on Nashville.gov faster, more convenient and easy to navigate. It has been developed to be fully mobile friendly and will automatically reformat to fit any device screen size from desktop to smartphone.

Nashville.gov served more than 2 million unique visitors in 2012 and had more than 11 million page views. Nearly 19 percent of the site’s traffic currently comes from mobile devices.

“Our goal was to make the website simple enough so that visitors to the site wouldn’t need to know the organizational structure of Metro Government in order to find what they are looking for,” said Keith Durbin, Metro’s Chief Information Officer and director of Information Technology Services.
The website has a fresh appearance and includes more color and images. Some of the highlights of the website include:

  • Enhanced search capability, offering search results which improve and give prominence to popular search results that visitors select.
  • Improved interactive calendar with community and local government events.
  • Interactive maps to find community attractions and government locations like parks, greenways and offices.
  • Subscription tools for automated delivery of government meeting agendas by email or text message.
  • Combined social media center to centralize social media offerings from Metro departments, agencies and initiatives in one location.
  • Combined newsroom allowing for centralized press and media releases from many departments and agencies.
  • Additional and easier to locate on-demand online services, including an online form to report comments and complaints to the Metro 311 Customer Service Center.

New features will be added in the coming months, including more extensive use of maps that understand your current location and a MyNashville feature that will offer customized content to visitors based on their preferences.

Metro Food Drive for Second Harvest Raises Enough to Provide 98,000 Meals
Collections Double Over Last Year

More than 125,000 pounds of food – enough for 98,000 meals for Davidson County families – was raised for Second Harvest Food Bank by the Metro Government-wide food drive led by Mayor Karl Dean. For the third year, Dean challenged the Governor’s Office to a friendly “food fight,” and this year the trophy returned to the Mayor’s Office.

During a news conference at Second Harvest today, Dean was joined by Gov. Bill Haslam and announced the amount of food raised was double the amount collected last year. Dean also recognized three Metro Government departments for winning the “Mayor’s Cup.” The winner in the general competition among Metro departments was the Circuit Court Clerk office.

In the contest between the Fire Department and Police Department, the Fire Department won by raising 15,492 pounds of food. In the public participation contest between Parks and Recreation, the Nashville Farmers’ Market and the Metro Transit Authority, MTA won after donating 35,755 pounds of food. MTA waged a “Stuff the Bus” campaign to get public bus riders to donate canned goods in exchange for free bus tickets.

“Metro employees went above and beyond this year, doubling last year’s donations, and I could not be more proud of everyone who participated,” Dean said. “I also can’t thank Gov. Haslam and his staff enough for their contributions. Through the Metro food drive and with the help of Second Harvest, we are able to support struggling Tennesseans and bring city-wide attention to the issue of hunger. Together, we are helping a lot of families this holiday season.”
The donated food items will be sorted by Second Harvest this week before going out to a variety of food pantries and community centers providing emergency food assistance in Nashville.

“Fifteen percent of Tennessee households were food insecure from 2009 to 2011, according to a government study, and the reality is one hungry household is one too many,” Haslam said. “Second Harvest Food Bank and organizations like it play a critical role in helping families, and I encourage citizens across the Volunteer State to do what you can to help those in need.”

This is the fourth year Metro offices have collected food to help stock the shelves at Second Harvest in advance of the upcoming holiday season. Cans and monetary donations were collected from Nov. 28 to Dec. 14.

Collections were double over last year’s 62,503 pounds of food raised, vastly exceeding the goal of raising 10 percent more than last year. The Mayor’s Office donated 13,574 pounds of food to win the “food fight.” In last year’s “food fight” with the Governor’s Office, the Governor’s Office won.

“Hunger doesn't care about circumstance – we all know people who are struggling in our community,” said Jaynee Day, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. “The continued support from our local and state government will help stock pantries across Middle Tennessee this holiday season, and for that we are eternally grateful.”

The food drive donations will be used to support Second Harvest’s Feeding Hope Challenge to provide 10 million meals for hungry children, seniors and families this holiday season. Demand for services at Second Harvest has increased by 18 percent over the past year. In Tennessee, one in six adults and one in four children are at risk of hunger. For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank, visit www.secondharvestmidtn.org or call 615-329-3491.
The Metro Food Fight is supported by Impact Nashville, a Mayor’s Office initiative to increase volunteerism to address the city’s most pressing needs.

Metro at 50

Fifty years ago, the citizens of Davidson County and the City of Nashville had a great debate about our future. They understood the higher cost and inefficiency involved in keeping two separate forms of local government in place and funding them.

They decided to do something different about their government - different than the rest of the country. They voted to consolidate our competing and duplicative city and county governments into one. They called this new government Metro. They saw this as a way to make our community stronger and more efficient in delivering services to the citizens. They voted to create the first fully unified government in the United States with the passage of the Metro Charter on June 28, 1962.

Five decades later, it's clear those voters were right.  Our consolidated metropolitan form of government has saved money and enhanced resources. Through the years, cities and counties from all over the nation have come to visit us to see what we did and how it's worked. Some have even found a way to consolidate their local governments as well.

As we mark this historic milestone of 50 years of Metro government, Metro at 50 is dedicated both to celebrating that achievement and educating the public about the remarkable story of how Metro came to be. You will find that history here: the photographs, the news clips, the first-person remembrances as well as the key decisions and documents that shaped the formation and future of Metro.

This is also a web site where information will be available about the community-wide celebrations being planned and the other special activities coming up to mark our city's unique birthday. That includes activities highlighting three particularly special times during this golden anniversary:

  • June 28, 2012: the 50th anniversary of the successful referendum approving the Metro Charter.
  • November, 2012: the 50th anniversary of the election of the first Mayor, Vice Mayor and Council for Metro government.
  • April 1, 2013: the 50th anniversary of the official inauguration of Metropolitan government as the new Mayor, Vice Mayor and 40-member Council took office, consolidating the old city and county governments.

On this site, you can also learn how local schools, civic clubs, neighborhood organizations, the faith community and individuals like you can play a role and get involved.

Our goal is not just to look back and celebrate the great decisions of a half-century ago, but to look forward together to how we can make our community even better - now and fifty years from now.