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Annual Report / Government Innovation

Annual Report 2022-2023: Government Innovation

Strengthening City Governments to Improve Residents’ Lives

Globally, more people live in cities than ever before, and they are increasingly on the front lines of the world’s most pressing challenges. Local governments have a leading role to play in developing solutions but often lack the resources and expertise to make progress. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation program aims to help by strengthening city halls and their capacity to address major issues and better serve residents.


Improving city leadership through management training

Supporting cities to better use data and innovate more effectively

Developing, scaling, and spreading ideas to tackle city challenges

Convening city experts to share solutions

Investing in Leadership Training for City Leaders

Many mayors enter office without practical management experience or a network of peers to share ideas. In response, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School in 2017 to provide world-class leadership and management training for mayors and their staff. The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative has now provided intensive classroom sessions and support to 232 mayors and 394 senior staff from 31 countries. In April 2023, we opened the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University, home for all of our work together to empower city leaders, including a “First 100 Days” program for new mayors, endowed faculty positions, and graduate student fellowships.

Mike Bloomberg speaking at a podium in a room full of seated city leaders
In 2022, we brought together the sixth class of mayors and senior staff for separate weeks of intensive classroom leadership and management sessions in New York City.

To spread our impact, we have also joined local partners in Israel and South Africa to support additional training programs globally. The Bloomberg-Sagol Center for City Leadership at Tel Aviv University, launched in 2022 with the Sagol family, and the African Mayoral Leadership Initiative at the University of Cape Town, supported in 2023 with Big Win Philanthropy, will reach 20 mayors in Israel and 20 mayors in Africa every year.

Helping U.S. Cities Secure Historic Federal Funding

After the United States passed major funding for issues like climate and infrastructure, we recognized that few cities had the capacity to complete competitive applications, so we created a program to help mayors navigate and apply for the historic federal funding available. With the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and other partners, we launched the Local Infrastructure Hub to provide webinars, workshops, and additional application support for cities. Online sessions have featured speakers like Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu. We have engaged more than 900 cities to date.


Local Infrastructure Hub

In February 2023, the Local Infrastructure Hub helped 48 cities win nearly $250 million through the federal Safe Streets and Roads for All program to improve their road infrastructure and save lives. In total, 66 cities participating in our program have been awarded $327 million, with additional funding rolling out in the coming years.

Driving New Frontiers in City Data Use and Innovation

Data and innovation are critical problem-solving tools, but local governments often lack the skills and capacity they need. In city halls, Bloomberg Philanthropies spearheaded the creation of innovation teams (“i-teams”), composed of experts in data analysis, design, and project management, to take on mayors’ toughest challenges. We have also supported innovation trainings on this work for other city staff, with a focus on strengthening cities’ digital services. We have now spread i-teams to more than 50 cities globally and trained thousands of city staff. This work is housed at the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins University, along with the Cities of Service program that promotes citizen engagement and volunteerism to address cities’ needs.

Trained more than



city leaders to better use data

Reached more than



cities globally

Trainings on data use that we supported helped city staff in Syracuse develop a data-driven strategy for maintaining the city’s sidewalks.

To improve cities’ use of data, we lead programs that work with cities to better solve problems and deliver data-driven services. The What Works Cities Certification program rates how effectively cities use data to govern and provides them with training and other support to improve. In 2022, we built on this work with the launch of the City Data Alliance, which will partner with 100 cities in North and South America to bring their use of data to an even higher standard through focused coaching, technical assistance, and policy change. Our work aims to embed effective data use in city governance, improving policymaking and benefiting residents for years to come.


City Data Alliance

Through the City Data Alliance, Fortaleza, Brazil, is working to spread best practices around data use across all city departments. As part of their work to eliminate illegal dumping, city staff are now compiling data on neighborhood waste from different departments, city systems, and resident complaints to more efficiently organize and assign trash collectors’ routes.

Innovation Teams

In Mexico City, Mexico, the i-team worked to expand access to the city’s digital services site, called “Llave CDMX.” The team helped simplify and streamline the user experience, while adding 28 additional services and the ability for residents to submit questions. As a result, the site added 1.1 million users in just six months, who can now access birth certificates, pay parking tickets, get construction permits, and more.

Credit: Digital Agency for Public Innovation, Mexico City Government

Syracuse, New York, with support from the city’s i-team, is digitizing its current paper-based procurement process and working to better reach minority- and women-owned businesses. In addition to ensuring that city procurement can happen much more quickly and efficiently, this project makes it easier for a new and diverse set of vendors to learn about contracting opportunities and connect with the city.

Developing, Scaling, and Spreading Good Ideas

Since 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies has run a series of regional and global competitions to spark innovative, replicable ideas that address cities’ biggest challenges. The Mayors Challenge has provided 38 winning cities with funding and technical assistance to realize their ideas across five rounds of the competition — in the United States (twice), Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and globally.

We’ve also launched efforts to replicate the most successful winning ideas in other cities worldwide, expanding the impact of the Mayors Challenge even further. From improving sustainability around waste to strengthening language development for young children, our efforts are helping spread effective programs to reach millions of residents in cities globally.


Mayors Challenge

Credit: Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Istanbul, Turkey, was a winner of the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge for the “Pay-It-Forward” program, a social support and solidarity effort that matches residents burdened by unpaid utility bills and other needs with those willing to provide financial assistance. Following a catastrophic earthquake in February 2023, the program pivoted to add an “earthquake relief” option in partnership with local supermarkets, facilitating donations of food, hygiene items, and more than $120,000 in just two weeks.


Mayors Challenge Replication

Two men posing with a certificate

Credit: State of Jalisco, Mexico, via Sarape Films

Guadalajara, Mexico, won the 2016 Mayors Challenge for a project, called “Visor Urbano,” to digitize the city’s paper-based licensing and permitting process and reduce corruption. Championed by Mayor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, who has gone on to become governor of the state of Jalisco, the successful project has been replicated in 90 cities across the region and beyond, reducing costs, corruption, and wait times.



winning cities named to date




cities replicating successful ideas

Cities around the world have now replicated a Mayors Challenge-winning project from Stockholm, Sweden, which tackles climate change by turning plant waste into biochar, a charcoal-like product that sequesters carbon.

Convening City Experts to Share Solutions

In 2022, we reconvened the largest annual summit for mayors, innovators, artists, and urban experts at Bloomberg CityLab. Held in person for the first time since 2019, the summit in Amsterdam brought together more than 500 city leaders and experts, including 40 mayors, to discuss solutions to pressing challenges. At the event, we also expanded our support for asphalt art projects to 19 European cities and launched a new effort to help 10 cities create bike lanes and other infrastructure.


See How We Are Equipping Mayors and Senior City Leaders with the Skills and Expertise to Tackle Complex Challenges

Top photo: We provided data trainings that led city staff in Syracuse, New York, to develop a new model for repairing and maintaining sidewalks. The city is now following the data to proactively identify, repair, and maintain sidewalks to improve accessibility.