As Judith Rodin and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg describe it,
["The Cities of Service initiative is] designed not merely to increase volunteering, but also to direct volunteers to the city's toughest problems -- and measure our success in addressing them...Mayors from communities around the country see the same benefit. To support them in their efforts and encourage others to join in, we created Cities of Service, a national coalition that now includes 100 mayors dedicated to using service as a serious strategy to address local challenges.
These Cities of Service, from Seattle to Savannah, are establishing innovative citizen-service strategies to address challenges from public safety to homelessness to struggling schools. They're engaging local funders, small businesses, and universities in coordinated efforts to address these longtime problems -- while developing plans to bring critical federal Americorps resources into their cities. They are also using service to address emerging issues. Cities of Service [will help] to democratize governance, by drawing in more citizens and empowering them to get more involved in their cities' civic lives."
(Note that the comments below this article are largely negative, pointing out that this seems like a way to let governments off the hook for funding their traditional responsibilities).