Blog

Taking Care of Moms on Mother’s Day & Every Day

By Dr. Neena Prasad, Director of Maternal and Reproductive Health Program, Bloomberg Philanthropies

Around the world, approximately 830 women die daily from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Developing countries have an overall maternal mortality ratio of 239 deaths per 100,000 live births, while in developed countries that ratio is 12 deaths per 100,000 live births. Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

These sobering statistics underscore the healthcare disparities between high- and low-income countries, especially when it comes to women’s health—and the dire need to address them.

Collecting Data – a Matter of Life and Death

By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team

Nearly 30 million deaths go unregistered without a cause of death each year. Put another way, more than half of deaths globally aren’t recorded with any usable information. And, nearly 40 percent of the 128 million babies born each year are not officially registered. Without this crucial data, a government cannot create policies that lower risk for disease and positively influence the health and wellness of its citizens. This lack of data can result in errant or misinformed health policy that harms the economy, education, democracy, and other vital attributes of a robust society.

Follow the Data Podcast: Gone Fishing

The United Nations International Coral Reef Initiative has declared 2018 the International Year of the Reef. Coral reefs are home to one in every four fish in the ocean, and are a critical backbone of ocean ecosystems. Unfortunately, climate change and destructive fishing practices threatens to destroy 90 percent of reefs in the next three decades.

As the demand for fish continues to grow, overfishing and damaging fishing practices, like bottom-trawling and illegal fishing, are destroying coral reefs and endangering the primary protein source for a billion people and thousands more who rely on fishing for income. At Bloomberg Philanthropies, our Vibrant Oceans Initiative is working to replenish fish populations and create a more sustainable environment.

Global Health Checkup: Seven Steps to Tackle NCDs in Brazil

by Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team lead

Brazil, a country known for its spectacular coastline, football prowess, and vibrant culture, has also become known in the public health community for its progressive action to prevent noncommunicable diseases.

On the first stop of my “Global Health Checkup,” I was not only wowed by Rio’s sprawling beaches and Brasilia’s magnificent architecture but also by the incredible work public health leaders are doing to help their citizens lead healthier lives.

Fighting Secondhand Smoke in Bengaluru, India

By Dr. Vishal Rao, Chief of Head Neck Surgical Oncology at Healthcare Global Enterprise Cancer Hospital in Bengaluru, India

Bengaluru is a city on the rise. In India’s southern Karnataka state, the city has become the tech hub of the global south, with a burgeoning start-up community and an Asian base for the world’s largest technology companies. But a smoke-filled cloud hangs over Bengaluru’s success. A national law prohibiting smoking in public places has not led to smoke free spaces, and many individuals are unaware of the harms of exposure to secondhand smoke in workplaces and homes.

Bengaluru is fighting to change the status quo. As part of the Partnership for Healthy Cities – supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Vital Strategies and the World Health Organization –Bengaluru has committed to becoming a smoke-free city.

4 strategies that are defining the future of city communications

Last week, Bloomberg Philanthropies brought 54 communications leaders from city halls in the U.S. and the U.K. to New York City to discuss these topics and more. In panel conversations, workshops, and one-on-ones, they traded tips on social media and storytelling, considered the changing media industry, and learned the latest and best practices for organizing a comms shop. Here are four strategies that emerged last week that are likely to reflect where the field of city-government communications is headed.

This Earth Day Santo Domingo is Going Green and Getting Healthy, Too

By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team lead

April 22 is Earth Day. As we focus on conserving our lands and cleaning up our planet, it is important to also remember that the exposures in our environment impact our physical health.

The air pollution that comes from burning fuels for energy can also cause noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke and lung diseases. These diseases lead to over 39.5 million deaths globally every year of which over six million are due to outdoor and indoor air pollution.

Follow the Data Podcast: A Prescription for Hope in the Opioid Epidemic

In the United States, over two million people are addicted to opioids and an average of 115 people die every day from opioid overdoses. It is a complicated issue that requires multifaceted solutions, with engagement and action from many stakeholders.

In this episode, Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health Program Lead, speaks with Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is also director of the school’s Bloomberg American Health Initiative, which was launched with a $300 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

A Public Art Project’s Ripple Effect on Neighboring Communities

By Madeline Fletcher, Executive Director of Newburgh Community Land Bank

Just 60 miles north of Manhattan, in the post-industrial Hudson River city of Newburgh – a town gutted by urban renewal and crippled by the foreclosure crisis – the Newburgh Community Land Bank has been working in overdrive to give vacant and abandoned properties new life.  We are a quasi-public non-profit agency that acquires titles of abandoned properties. Our ultimate goal is to help a community provide livable homes and build strong neighborhoods.

Drowning: A silent epidemic

By Kelly Larson, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team

Drowning is often considered a “silent epidemic” due to the lack of attention it receives around the world. Bloomberg Philanthropies is dedicated to addressing this under-recognized public health issue. Our work began in 2012, with a study on the effectiveness of community daycares and playpens in Bangladesh for roughly 70,000 children under the age of 5. The study showed a 74 percent reduction in drowning deaths for children in daycare. These children also demonstrated increased cognitive development.

Follow the Data Podcast: Untapped American Talent

In the United States, research shows less than 50 percent of high-achieving, lower-income students apply to a selective college or university despite the fact that they are talented and have great qualifications. And only 6 percent of the students at top colleges and universities are from lower-income backgrounds.

Today’s episode explores how colleges and universities are seeing this problem and doing something about it. College presidents are joining together in the American Talent Initiative or ATI, a program to increase the number of low- and moderate-income students enrolled at schools with the highest graduation rates. Their goal? To accept, enroll and graduate an additional 50,000 of these students by 2025.

Innovation coaches offer their top tips to city leaders

This week, teams from 35 city halls across the United States are getting a crash course in how to take a good idea and test, learn, and adapt to make it better.

They’re the Champion Cities — finalists in the 2018 Mayors Challenge to find bold ideas for solving cities’ toughest problems, including everything from climate change and homelessness, to public health and infrastructure. We awarded each of them up to $100,000 to develop their ideas over a six-month testing phase. One city will win a grand prize of $5 million in October, while four others will win $1 million.

Follow the Data Podcast: Reducing Tobacco Use, A Year in Review

In honor of the winners of the 2018 Bloomberg Philanthropies Tobacco Awards and the progress these countries have made, we revisit one of our favorite podcast episodes about the worldwide fight to reduce tobacco use. This episode’s conversation is between Neena Prasad of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health team, Yolonda Richardson, from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and Jose Luis Castro, executive director of the Union and CEO of Vital Strategies.

3 Ways to Promote a Culture and Practice of Collaboration

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.

2018 Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards for Global Tobacco Control: Meet the Winning Organizations

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.

Follow the Data Podcast Episode 17: Rwandan Women Rebuilding Their Lives – Brick by Brick

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.

Winning the Fight Against Big Tobacco

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.

Follow the Data Podcast Episode 16: The Innovative Mayor, Michael Hancock

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.

Five ways U.S. cities are solving America’s biggest challenges

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.

The Mayors Challenge: Unleashing the Power of Public Prototyping

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.

Public Art Challenge pushes cities to see art as a tool for change

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.

Data-driven women to watch

By Beth Blauer, Executive Director and Founder of GovEx at Johns Hopkins University, and Simone Brody, Executive Director of What Works Cities

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.

Follow the Data Podcast Episode 15: The Innovative Mayor, Jan Vapaavuori

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.”

The mayor behind Kansas City’s data revolution

By Sly James, Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri 

When I became Mayor of Kansas City in 2011, residents were eager to see local government become more efficient, accountable, and responsive to their needs. They didn’t want rhetoric. They wanted facts. And they deserved to see progress.

That’s why we started KCStat that December. It’s a data-driven strategy for improving city services. Each month, City Manager Troy Schulte and I hold a meeting during which staff in charge of different services—from public safety to economic development to transportation— present metrics on what’s going well and what’s not going so well. We ask tough questions, demand good answers, and expect to see progress by the next meeting.

Insights from Indonesia: Protecting Our Coral Reefs

By Antha Williams, Head of Environmental Programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies

Our oceans program, like all of our work at Bloomberg Philanthropies, aims to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. So it’s good news that the United Nations International Coral Reef Initiative has declared 2018 the International Year of the Reef. Coral reefs are home to one in every four fish in the ocean, and are a critical backbone of ocean ecosystems. Unfortunately, climate change threatens to destroy 90 percent of reefs in the next three decades. And as the demand for fish continues to grow, overfishing and destructive practices, like bottom-trawling and using bombs and cyanide for fishing, are damaging coral reefs.

Follow the Data Podcast Episode 14: Coal: Why a 19th Century Innovation is Not Working in a 21st Century World

This year’s final episode of Follow the Data revisits Bloomberg Philanthropies first feature documentary, From the Ashes, directed by Michael Bonfiglio and distributed by National Geographic. Inspired by Mike Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ commitment to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the film was developed to bring greater attention to the impact of the coal industry in the United States.

Katherine Oliver speaks to two clean economy pioneers featured in the film: Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas, and Brandon Dennison, Founder of Coalfield Development Corporation, based in West Virginia.

Our Favorite Gifts This Holiday Season

The Bloomberg Philanthropies holiday gift guide, chosen by our program teams.

It’s time to take a fun look back at the past year. In 2016, we shared a playlist inspired by some of our work, and in 2015 we recapped our favorite Instagram photos. This time, we wanted to share ideas you can use. If you’re searching for a gift that makes the world a better place, look no further.

Cities Collaborate with Citizens to Make an Impact

By Myung J. Lee, Executive Director, Cities of Service

If there’s one thing my work with city leaders around the world has taught me, it’s that the challenges cities face are as diverse as the cities themselves.

324 Mayors Challenge applicants tackle America’s most pressing concerns

There’s no question that cities are confronted with mounting pressures, including everything from income inequality and homelessness to failing infrastructure and climate change. What was less clear was – if presented with the shot at $5 million to help them tackle their top concern – what America’s mayors would target.

Follow the Data Podcast Episode 13: The Innovative Mayor

The 13th episode of Follow the Data presents a conversation with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti about how to cultivate and retain innovation in city hall. LA is unique in that the city appointed a Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, and the city continues to illustrate impressive capacity to take risks and experiment for the sake of innovation.