PLAINFIELD, NJ - The City of Plainfield received two awards at the 2019 The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 87th Annual Meeting in Honolulu, HI, specifically for small cities with populations under 100,000. The awards, Outstanding Achievement Award for Livability and a CommunityWINS® Grant Program of $50,000 for the South Second Street Youth Centers Pathway to Stabilization Program, were a part of the discussions and presentations that took place among the mayors who gather annually to share ideas.

The City of Plainfield’s Livability Award recognizes mayoral leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in American cities, focusing on the leadership, creativity, and innovation demonstrated by the mayors. Over 100 applicants competed in this category sponsored by Waste Management, Inc.  and winning cities were selected by a panel of former mayors. 

In 2018, the City of Plainfield formed the Quality of Life Taskforce with members from all of the city’s departments including Police, Fire, Inspections, Health, Public Works, Community Development, Zoning and the Bulk Division of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority to tackle the city-wide issue of code enforcement. Working together, each department can assess all risks both to the property and the community and quickly determine the next steps that need to be taken and improve overall efficiency. Under the taskforce, vacant and abandoned housing and buildings are the key focus so as to remedy issues of squatting, illegal apartments or rooming, illegal dumping, excessive hoarding and unsafe structures. 

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As an award recipient, the City will be awarded a hand-crafted, engraved City Livability Award sculpture, suitable for public display as a symbol of the city’s award; permission to use the exclusive City Livability Award logo on municipal flags, stationery, street signs, t-shirts, publication in U.S. Mayor, the twice-monthly news publication of the Conference of Mayors, and a description of winning programs on the Conference’s internet website. 

Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and Aguadilla (PR) Mayor Carlos Méndez Martínez were awarded first place honors.

The second award was a grant for $50,000 for the Second Street Youth Center’s  Pathways to Stabilization initiative.  The 2019 CommunityWINS® Grant Program funds will enable the nonprofit to expand Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programs for children. In addition, the center will expand the computer technology program and add a Robotics Club and curriculum. The STEAM program also incorporates the nonprofit’s Urban Farm, providing opportunities for children to learn many STEAM skills through growing fresh produce.  

The CommunityWINS® Grant Program was launched in 2015 to recognize nonprofits and cities with programs that drive neighborhood stabilization, economic development and job creation. According to the USCM website, an independent panel of judges selected recipients of the Wells Fargo Foundation-funded grants from 136 applicants representing small, medium, large and metropolitan cities. 

Mapp said, “Every single child is important in our city and we recognize that providing a strong foundation is essential for growing scholars of the future. Not only is the Second Street Youth Center growing the minds of our young people and reaching an underserved segment of our community, but the building serves as a place maker in an area that was blighted for many years and every single decision we make is focused on improving quality of life in our communities and laying the foundation for a successful and sustainable future.” 

The Wells Fargo Foundation’s philanthropic support makes the CommunityWINS® Grant Program was sponsored by the Wells Dargo Foundation as a part of a recent philanthropic strategy that includes a $1 billion commitment to address the housing affordability crisis, a $20 million challenge grant aimed at accelerating housing solutions nationwide and an increased focus on financial health and small business growth.

Mayors Tim Keller of Albuquerque, NM; Keisha Bottoms of Atlanta, GA; Toni Harp of New Haven, CT.; and John Noak of Romeoville, IL, are the top honorees.