The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s weekly radio address delivered on 1010 WINS News Radio on Sunday, February 12, 2012.
“Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“In government, you strive to make a difference and improve the lives of others, not win awards. But we’re always grateful when our hard work and ambition are recognized by those we respect. That’s why we are proud to announce that Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government has decided to bestow its prestigious ‘Innovations in American Government Award’ on our City’s Center for Economic Opportunity.
“The Center for Economic Opportunity is our vehicle for bringing new commitment and ideas to the fight against poverty. When we established the Center for Economic Opportunity more than five years ago, we gave it a $100 million budget in public and private funding and also a mandate: Be bold. Think outside the box. Take risks. Try new things. After all, the world’s leading science and technology companies have set up research and development divisions to pioneer new products. Why not do the same in the fight against poverty?
“With the help of dozens of City agencies, the Center for Economic Opportunity has pioneered some 50 different initiatives. Some have already made a real impact, and many others have showed great promise. For example, one initiative takes a targeted approach to workforce development by partnering with employers in the transportation and health care sectors to find out what kind of skills they are looking for and then working with job-seekers to train them in those skills. We’ve connected nearly 3,000 New Yorkers to jobs this way – and another 400 have won promotions in their existing jobs.
“In another initiative – one that’s especially relevant now that it’s tax time – we’re helping New Yorkers put aside some of their tax refunds and build a nest egg for the future. Savings up to $1,000 are matched 50-cents-to-the-dollar with private donations. Last year, participants who saved for the full year built an average of more than $800 in savings – which is extremely important when an unforeseen emergency arises.
“No other American city has taken such an innovative and comprehensive approach to reducing poverty – but what also makes the Center for Economic Opportunity unique is that it’s built to achieve results. We’ve implemented rigorous standards of accountability and a structure to measure the outcomes of its work. We don’t expect every initiative to succeed – and the ones that don’t will lose their funding, so that we can concentrate on the ones that do.
“And because the Center is housed within the Mayor’s Office, it has the power and ability to work across City government – often collaborating with City agencies that never considered themselves part of the mission of fighting poverty, but whose work nevertheless touches New Yorkers in poverty every single day.
“As a result of the Center’s pioneering work, we recently received a grant from the Obama Administration to replicate five of our most successful anti-poverty programs in cities around the country. And now this recognition from Harvard University means that the Center’s work will be used as a case study at the most prestigious university in the nation. It’s just one more example of how our Administration is thinking innovatively about longstanding challenges and leading the way in devising solutions.
“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening.”