By Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies
Mayors often come into office with bold ideas for tackling the toughest issues – whether it’s gun violence, school readiness, homelessness, or workforce development. And if they don’t know it before they get to city hall, one of the first things they learn upon arrival is that they can’t go it alone.
The truth is that the most successful and sustainable solutions demand the buy-in, brainpower, and resources of stakeholders across a city, including universities, nonprofits, businesses, foundations, and neighborhood groups.
Collaboration across these sectors was key to all that Mike Bloomberg accomplished in his 12 years as mayor of New York City. It has also been key to our work at Bloomberg Philanthropies, where we’ve sought partnerships with other foundations and helped city leaders in hundreds of cities tackle major challenges – often by tapping wisdom, creativity, and resources from citizens, community groups, and businesses.
Each year, nearly seven million people worldwide are killed by tobacco use, mostly in developing nations. The 2018 winners highlight the progress being made to control tobacco use and show the effectiveness of the MPOWER strategies, developed by WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases Mike Bloomberg and former WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in 2008.
Our newest episode of Follow the Data features a conversation between Verna Eggleston, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Women’s Economic Development program, and Joy Rwamwenge, the director of the Women’s Opportunity Center in Kayonza, Rwanda. And at the end of the show, we also speak with Laurie Adams, the President and CEO of Women for Women International, tells listeners how to get involved with the organization.
Women for Women International opened its Women’s Opportunity Center in Kayonza in 2013. The facility is a six-classroom campus, with a bed & breakfast, restaurant, community garden and a local coffee café. The goal of the center aligns with the Rwanda government’s overarching 2020 vision – to create new economic opportunities and strengthen social infrastructure for rural women. By bridging the gap between urban buyers and rural farmers, the center provides space for education, business development, entrepreneurial activities, and networking.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health lead
Tobacco use is responsible for more than seven million deaths each year worldwide. While that number is shocking, these deaths are preventable if governments and philanthropy work together to combat the tactics of Big Tobacco. On March 7th, the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, the premier international forum on tobacco control, will gather public and private sector officials from more than 100 countries to advance this ongoing fight.
The 16th episode of Follow the Data presents a conversation with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and James Anderson, who leads Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies. Mayor Hancock is a native Denverite, serving his second term. He is known as a “mayor’s mayor,” surrounding himself with a talented team, and concentrating on efforts to make government more effective, to better serve its citizens.
At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’ve been fortunate to work with Mayor Hancock and the City of Denver in a variety of ways. Denver was an early member of What Works Cities, our initiative committed to helping cities better manage data to improve people’s lives. Mayor Hancock is one of the first 40 mayors to participate in our collaboration with Harvard University to give mayors high-quality executive coaching and training that rivals what is available to their CEO peers in the business world.
By Anne Emig, Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation team
Thirty-five U.S. cities, from as large as Los Angeles, Calif., and as small as Ithaca, N.Y., are about to launch into an unprecedented experiment to solve some of our country’s biggest challenges. Each of these finalists—or “Champion Cities”—in the 2018 Mayors Challenge will spend the next six months testing and refining their big ideas for tackling everything from opioid addiction to climate change. And while only five cities will win prizes later this year—including one $5 million prize and four $1 million prizes—all will walk away winners, and that much closer to solving some of our cities’ toughest concerns.
By James Anderson, Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation team
Just about every successful business prototypes new solutions before bringing them to market. Amazon, Apple, Walmart, CVS Health, Ford, and Tesla—to name just a few—have successfully launched new products or entered new markets by tapping this tried-and-true product development technique.
Yet it’s a concept that is virtually unknown within the public sector, where the stakes for innovation are highest. Just ask any police chief. Actual lives depend on cities’ ability to constantly innovate new and better approaches.
By Anita Contini, Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts Team
When Spartanburg, S.C., embarked on an ambitious public art project a few years ago, it was the police department that took the lead. And while police aren’t typically the first officials people turn to for matters of artistic expression, in this case the department was a perfect fit.
That’s because city leaders were looking for a way art could help strengthen ties between law enforcement and the community. For more than a year, officers and light artist Erwin Redl spent time with people from neighborhoods across Spartanburg. Together they dreamed up nine separate installations, from lighting up old smokestacks to projecting videos of community residents on the side of a vacant public housing complex. Along the way, officers and local leaders built a shared sense of purpose.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the field of data science is that it’s all about the numbers. But, as anybody in our business will attest, statistics and spreadsheets don’t mean a whole lot if you don’t also understand the people, the problems, and the promise they represent.
Our work has never been “all about the numbers.” It is, however, increasingly about the number — and the diversity — of life experiences our teams bring to the table that deliver big and important impact in cities. Currently, women represent only 25 percent of the data scientists in the public and private sectors. But as two women who lead What Works Cities — Michael Bloomberg’s investment to help 100 U.S. cities expand upon the data and evidence work he pioneered in New York City Hall — we can tell you that there is a growing number of women at the table.
The 15th episode of Follow the Data presents a conversation with Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori and James Anderson, who leads Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies. Mayor Vapaavuori is a former member of the Helsinki City Council and served in Finland’s Parliament for more than a decade.
The Mayor took office last June during Bloomberg Philanthropies’ work with Helsinki as part of an effort to help cities better determine the future of autonomous vehicles and harness the technology to address urban challenges. He is the first person to lead the city in the wake of a significant set of reforms to Helsinki’s organizational structure. Additionally, he has an ambitious goal: to make Helsinki the world’s “most functional city.”