Mayors Challenge

INSPIRING BOLD, REPLICABLE INNOVATIONS DEVELOPED BY CITIES

The Mayors Challenge is a competition to inspire cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life – and that ultimately can be shared and replicated by cities worldwide.

Cities are uniquely positioned to encourage and foster the innovation, creativity, ideas, and solutions needed to tackle the pressing social and economic issues facing the world today – as well as meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Yet with increasing needs and diminishing budgets, local governments must find innovative new ways to get work done. That’s where the Mayors Challenge comes in – a competition for cities that inspires mayors and their partners to develop breakthrough solutions.

APPLYING THE BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES APPROACH TO INSPIRE BOLD INNOVATIONS FROM CITIES

  1. A CALL TO ACTION
    As a call to local governments to propose bold solutions, the Mayors Challenge incentivizes local leaders to think creatively, test new approaches, and identify groundbreaking new innovations in any policy area – from public health to sustainability to arts and culture. Across the U.S. and Europe, nearly 500 cities have accepted the challenge.
  2. BUILDING CAPACITY FOR INNOVATION
    Mayors Challenge finalists evolve their ideas over several months through personalized coaching and skills-building. A highlight of the coaching process is Ideas Camp – a two-day conference convening municipal leaders from each city as well as leading innovation, policy, and programming experts who partner with and push city teams to stretch, strenghten and refine their innovations.
  3. TURNING IDEAS INTO REALITY
    While the selection committee looks for ideas that are bold and visionary, they also assess each city’s demonstrated ability to implement the idea and generate measurable impact. And in addition to prize money, winning cities receive expert coaching and technical assistance to bring their ideas to life.

MAYORS CHALLENGE €5 MILLION GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Collaborative Care Networks for Better Aging – Barcelona, Spain

IMPROVING SOCIAL SERVICES AND CARING FOR AGING POPULATIONS BY LEVERAGING SOCIAL NETWORKS

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GROUNDBREAKING INNOVATION IS NEEDED MORE THAN EVER

At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we see that solutions to the world’s most pressing problems – from climate change to aging populations – can be found in cities. We believe that mayors have a unique power to overcome obstacles and get things done.

However, actually meeting the challenges of tomorrow – with all of the constraints that cities operate under – will  require more agility and creativity than ever. Finding new solutions will require cities to form different partnerships, engage citizens in new ways, and use data more often and more effectively. Mayors across the U.S. and globally have already begun to generate solutions in areas such as public safety, education, and customer service. These inspiring examples of local innovation offer a roadmap, but breakthroughs pioneered in one city seldom transfer successfully or with urgency to other cities.

As a call to local governments to propose bold solutions, the Mayors Challenge incentivizes local leaders to think creatively, test new approaches, and identify groundbreaking new innovations in any policy area – from public health to sustainability to arts and culture.

MAYORS CHALLENGE $5 MILLION GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Providence Talks – Providence, Rhode Island

COMBINING PROVEN RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES FOR LOW-INCOME CHILDREN

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SURFACING, CULTIVATING AND SPREADING THE BEST BOLD IDEAS

Innovation comes from an intentional process of experimentation and exploration. Through the Mayors Challenge, cities are invited to define a clear problem and answer it with a solution that is as concrete as it is compelling. Once cities accept the challenge and apply, an independent Selection Committee reviews the proposals and selects the promising ideas to move forward. Finalists receive targeted coaching and attend Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering where entrants  stretch, strengthen and refine their ideas in collaboration with one another, after which they resubmit their proposals. Winners receive cash prizes and implementation support to bring their ideas to life.

After a successful inaugural competition in the U.S., Bloomberg Philanthropies expanded the Mayors Challenge to Europe in 2014. The competition challenged city leaders to creatively address pressing local challenges, and hundreds of cities in Europe and the U.S. proposed ideas on a range of issues – from climate change to public health to youth unemployment. Many participating cities hosted local competitions to crowdsource ideas, conducted workshops with community stakeholders to develop partnerships, and engaged front-line municipal employees to contribute their expertise. Ten cities won prizes to implement their bold solutions.

MAYORS CHALLENGE $1 MILLION PRIZE WINNER: The Wellbeing Project – Santa Monica, CA

MEASURING WELLBEING TO GUIDE POLICY AND DECISION-MAKING THE PROBLEM?

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AMBITIOUS VISION AND PURPOSEFUL EXPERIMENTATION

Hundreds of cities across the United States and Europe applied to the Mayors Challenge, advancing bold thinking and experimentation for solutions across both continents. The cities with the best ideas got the funds to make it happen – one grand prize of $5 million and four $1 million awards in the U.S., and the same figures in Euros for the European version.

Ten ideas from U.S. and European cities, showing exceptional vision and potential for deep and broad impact, were selected to receive funding and support. Bloomberg Philanthropies is currently working with the winning cities to help implement their ideas.

MAYORS CHALLENGE €1 MILLION PRIZE WINNER: Biochar, for a Better City Ecosystem – Stockholm, Sweden

COMBATTING CLIMATE CHANGE BY MOBILIZING CITIZENS TO PRODUCE BIOCHAR

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WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

 

  1. STAY UPDATED ON THE COMPETITION
    Visit the Mayors Challenge website and follow @BloombergCities for news on the competition and other urban innovation efforts.
  2. LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW CITIES ARE INNOVATING
    Download our reports and watch interviews with innovators to get in-depth insights on trends that emerged from the ideas submitted to the US and European competitions.
  3. SEE MORE FROM IDEAS CAMP
    Municipal leaders from the 21 finalist cities met at Ideas Camp to stretch, strengthen, and refine their ideas. View photos and videos to get the inside scoop on the experience.