Eighteen U.S. cities will receive grants totaling almost $1 million to support volunteer programs in their communities. The grants from the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund, an initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies, will help cities implement projects ranging from recycling to preventing obesity to improving adult literacy.

“Mayors across the country are committed to using volunteers to tackle our biggest challenges,” said New York City Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the namesake for Bloomberg Philanthropies. The grants, ranging from $25,000 to $100,00, will support what the foundation calls “impact volunteering.” Grantee cities were selected based on the quality of their initiatives, potential for impact and implementation plans, among other criteria.

Cities awarded grants include:

  • Atlanta for a program to increase recycling in 6,500 households
  • Birmingham, Ala., will implement a program to engage 200 youth in exercise and healthy eating to combat obesity.
  • Kalamazoo, Mich., will launch new literacy centers to help 300 adults improve reading skills.
  • Pierre, S.D., with a project to remove debris and replant over 600 trees to help the city recover from 2011 floods.
  • Pittsburgh will coat 50,000 square feet of rooftops to reduce carbon emissions.

Cities of Service was founded in 2009 to support mayors to leverage citizen service strategies. An additional $1 million in grants will be available in 2013.