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631 Cities from 99 Countries Enter Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Global Mayors Challenge

Record-breaking number of cities enter first-ever global Mayors Challenge competition to uncover the most innovative solutions developed during a year of unprecedented urban challenges

 50 Champion Cities will be chosen from the applicants to test and strengthen their ideas through technical assistance and innovation support valued at nearly $150,000 per city, totaling $7 million

NEW YORK, NY – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that 631 cities from 99 countries have entered the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, an ideas competition to uncover and support the 50 most innovative solutions developed by cities in the wake of COVID-19. The Challenge was launched in January 2021 and will select 50 Champion Cities from among the hundreds of worldwide applications to test their ideas for several months this year. Fifteen grand prize winners will then be named in December 2021, each of which will receive $1 million to implement their breakthrough ideas and spread them to other cities globally.

Following the four prior Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenges run in three global regions (United States, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean), the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge builds on a tested, successful method for identifying bold ideas and bringing them to life in cities around the world.

“The record-breaking response to this year’s Global Mayors Challenge shows that cities are committed to emerging from this crisis even stronger than they were before. They’ve taken bold steps to save lives and protect their residents over the past year and the ideas being put forward build on that incredible work,” said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We’re looking forward to working with the winning cities, helping to supercharge their best and most innovative ideas, bring them to life, and spread them to other cities around the world.”

Cities of every size, geography, and political affiliation representing a combined population of 500 million citizens entered the 2021 Mayors Challenge.

Trends in the 2021 Mayors Challenge applications include:

  • Applications overwhelmingly include the themes of economic recovery and health and well-being in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • A clear majority of U.S. applications relate to innovation surrounding racial equity, a marked increase from the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge
  • 332 first-term mayors and 111 female mayors are in the pool of applicants
  • Applicants span the globe, with diverse regional representation:
    • Europe, Middle East & Africa: 212
    • Asia-Pacific: 149
    • Americas: 270

This infographic highlights data and key facts about the 2021 Mayors Challenge applicants.

In June, Bloomberg Philanthropies will announce 50 finalist “Champion Cities,” which represent the 50 best urban innovations to emerge from the last year. These cities will receive technical assistance and innovation support valued at nearly $150,000 per city, totaling $7 million.  In December, 15 grand prize-winning cities from among the Champion Cities will be announced, each of which will receive $1 million dollars to further implement their innovative ideas.

The 631 applications are now under review by a selection committee consisting of a wide range of experts including: Bloomberg Philanthropies board member Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President, Ariel Investments; David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee; Sir David Adjaye, OBE Founder, Adjaye Associates; Dr. Yogan Pillay, Country Director for South Africa and Senior Global Director for Universal Health Coverage, Clinton Health Access Initiative; Jagan Shah, Senior Infrastructure Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, British High Commission, New Delhi; Dr Vera Cordeiro, Founder and Chairwomen of the Board of Directors, Instituto Dara- Health and Human Development; Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia; Olafur Eliasson, Artist; Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor of Economics and Director, Wellbeing Research Centre, University of Oxford; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; Federica Mogherini, Rector, College of Europe and Former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Director, Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Former Executive Director, Code for America; and Mariana Costa Checa, Co-Founder And CEO, Laboratoria.

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About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, and TikTok.

Media Contact:
Ty Trippet,