For the second consecutive year, Fort Lauderdale has been named a finalist for the national All-America City Award. Sponsored by the National Civic League, the All-America City Award recognizes cities, counties, towns, neighborhoods, and metropolitan areas across the country for exemplary community-based problem solving and civic engagement efforts that involve public, private and non-profit entities.
“We are honored to be one of only 25 cities nationwide selected as a finalist for this prestigious designation,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler. “Our Citywide Vision and Strategic Plan reflect our commitment to working in partnership with our neighbors to address challenges and develop transformative solutions to move our City forward. Through bold ideas, innovative partnerships, and passionate civic engagement, we are building community, enhancing quality of life, and creating a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable City.”
The National Civic League commended Fort Lauderdale for numerous projects that demonstrate outstanding civic engagement, cross sector collaboration, inclusiveness, and innovation. An array of Parks and Recreation programs that promote healthy active lifestyles were recognized including: Wise Kids, the Presidential Challenge, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign, the Fit Kidz Club, and the City’s after-school programs and youth camps.
Three major initiatives taking place in the community were highlighted as examples of positive meaningful change:
- The Dillard Innovation Zone Promise Neighborhood, a project of the Broward Regional Health Planning Council (BRHPC), that is cultivating community and business collaborations to support school improvement, health service interventions, mentoring, enhanced classroom technology, reading and literacy at Dillard Elementary School and initiating innovative solutions to reinvigorate a neighborhood in need.
- The redevelopment of Flagler Village, a downtown neighborhood that has been transformed from a desolate and abandoned warehouse district into a vibrant center for arts and culture. The revitalized area features unique businesses including a master puppeteer, media and photography company, event planning and marketing business, advertising agency, theatre troupe, and an innovative landscape architecture firm. Flagler Village’s popular monthly Art Walks are a celebration of the neighborhood’s innovation, vision, and urban lifestyle, as well as a strong sign of the area’s rebirth.
- Northwest Gardens, a neighborhood development located in the City’s Northwest Community Redevelopment Area, is a model affordable housing project that showcases social, environmental, health, engagement, and economic sustainability. Spearheaded by the City of Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority in partnership with community members, private sector developers, and non-profit organizations, Northwest Gardens was the first LEED-ND Certified Neighborhood in Florida. The project promotes healthy living by providing residents with places to walk and bike safely, community gardens and fruit trees, energy efficient housing, solar streetlights, self-sufficiency training, job training, and cultural activities.
Fort Lauderdale was also lauded for its Complete Streets policy, which was recently ranked #1 in Florida and #3 in the nation; a wheelchair tennis program at George English Park; a walking club at Carter Park; and the hundreds of sports, programs, and community activities that have taken place during the past year at the new Orange Bowl Field at Carter Park.
“All-America city finalists are at the forefront of a nationwide movement to find inventive, community-based solutions to the issues that face our cities. From preparing our kids to compete and succeed in the 21st century to promoting livable neighborhood revitalization, new ideas often start in one community and later become best practices for others,” said National Civic League Board Chair Mayor Michael B. Hancock of Denver.
Joining Fort Lauderdale as finalists are 24 other communities from across the United States including: Montgomery, Alabama; San Pablo, California; Whittier, California; Brush, Colorado; Tarpon Springs, Florida; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Marshalltown, Iowa; Columbus, Indiana; Chelsea, Massachusetts; Dedham, Massachusetts; Fitchburg, Massachusetts; Somerville, Massachusetts; Marquette, Michigan; Kenmore, New York; Canton, New York; Independence, Oregon; Providence, Rhode Island; Knoxville, Tennessee; Brownsville, Texas; Marshall, Texas; Hampton, Virginia; Portsmouth, Virginia; Yakima, Washington; and Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Once described by pollster George Gallup as the “Nobel Prize” for civic accomplishment, the All-America City Award has been given to more than 600 communities since its inception in 1949. Communities vying for the designation submit applications to the National Civic League listing three examples of successful community change and describing their capacities for civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation. Finalists present to a jury of civic experts who select the annual award winners.
Last year, the City of Fort Lauderdale captured the National Civic League’s All-America City Diversity and Inclusiveness Award for extraordinary and innovative success in advancing diversity and inclusiveness.
The 2014 All-America Cities will be announced on June 15 as part of the National Civic League’s annual conference in Denver, Colorado.
NCL is a 120-year old nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Denver, Colorado. Its mission is accomplished by fostering and sharing promising practices of local government and public engagement and celebrating the progress that can be achieved when people work together. For more information, contact Mike McGrath at the National Civic League at 303 571-4343;firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the All-America City Blog at www.allamericacityaward.com or the NCL web site at www.ncl.org