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Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces Launch of the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge

City Innovation Competition Returns for the Fifth Time with New Global Focus on Uncovering the Most Transformative Ideas Borne from the COVID-19 Pandemic

New York, NY – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the launch of the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, an innovation competition that will identify and accelerate the most ambitious ideas developed by cities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition will select 50 finalists that represent the world’s leading urban innovations to emerge from the pandemic. Fifteen grand prize winners will receive $1 million each and robust multi-year support to implement and spread their breakthrough ideas.

The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge is bigger than ever before and will offer an enhanced program of support designed to meet the needs and ambitions of cities today. For the first time, the Challenge will be a global competition, a reflection of the urgency felt by cities around the world to develop new approaches amid the pandemic. The Challenge will select more finalists and grand prize winners than in previous competitions. Cities with populations of 100,000 or more are welcome to submit their boldest ideas at any stage of development. Applications close on March 21, 2021. Cities can apply here:

“Across the globe, mayors are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. And as they continue to manage this unprecedented public health crisis, city leaders are finding creative new ways to deliver services while also rebuilding their economies in ways that tackle climate change and fight inequality,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, former three-term mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The Bloomberg Philanthropies 2021 Global Mayors Challenge is designed to support leaders who are on the cutting edge of urban policy and work with them to test their most innovative ideas – and spread what works to other cities around the world. To emerge from this crisis stronger, cities need to be bold – and I have no doubt this year’s ideas will be some of the best yet.”

The four themes for this year’s competition will address the most significant challenges to emerge during the pandemic:

  • Economic recovery & inclusive growth
  • Health & wellbeing
  • Climate & environment
  • Good governance & equality

A selection committee co-chaired by Bloomberg Philanthropies board member Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President, Ariel Investments, and David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee, will determine the 50 finalist cities and ultimately the 15 grand prize winners. The global selection committee for the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge includes: 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. Each member of the selection committee will bring unique insight into the evaluation process that will ensure that the most innovative proposals are advanced through each round of the challenge.

Cities selected as finalists in the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge will have access to an expansive program of support. Finalists will receive coaching from world renowned experts in innovation, data, and project-specific subject matter to strengthen their submissions. Bespoke technical assistance and training will also help finalists test and refine their ideas. Finally, cities will join an unparalleled network of peers also pursuing bold, new ideas.

The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge builds on the success of four previous Bloomberg Philanthropies-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013 and 2018), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). Previous Mayors Challenge winners include Barcelona, Spain, for work to create digital trust networks that support at-risk elderly citizens; Providence, R.I., for a program to measure and reduce the “word gap” among low-income children during pivotal brain development years; Guadalajara, Mexico, for developing a program to fight corruption in the construction industry that has spread across the state of Jalisco; and, Huntington, West Virginia, for creating a wellness program and system of care to prevent burnout from first responders on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, 1,072 cities have applied to the previous four Mayors Challenges, 24 ideas have been selected as winners, and 22 of those ideas are being implemented in cities around the world. An additional 189 cities that did not win are continuing to develop their ideas.

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.