Skip to main content

Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces Partnership to Scale Civic Innovation Program in Israel

Bloomberg Philanthropies, Israel’s Ministry of the Interior and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to Accelerate Civic Innovation in 12 Municipalities

NEW YORK, NY AND TEL AVIV, ISRAEL: Bloomberg Philanthropies announced today the launch of Hazira, a national hub for city innovation and a major new effort to accelerate civic innovation in municipalities across Israel. In partnership with the Ministry of the Interior and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, Hazira will scale the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams (i-teams) program to 12 new cities across Israel over the course of five years and provide municipalities with the tools needed to tackle their most difficult, complex challenges.

“Hazira is not only innovation, it can be a revolution. It is not simply a project, it is a thought, it is a way,” said Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin.

Through the innovation program, the partnership seeks to increase the number of cities using a tested, impactful approach to civic innovation. This proven method provides mayors and city leaders with a reliable way to test, adapt and implement effective solutions that improve the lives of residents.

“Cities have to find creative ways to address complex challenges with limited resources. Innovation teams help them do that, and our program has had a lot of success working with cities in Israel,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, three-term mayor of NYC and founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We’re glad to be working with the Ministry of the Interior and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to expand the model nationally to equip more cities to innovate – and we’re looking forward to seeing the results.”

Hazira will also support the existing i-teams in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva.

In Israel, i-teams have been working in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv since 2015, and Be’er Sheva since 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Building on the success of these programs, the Ministry of the Interior, which advances new models for municipal innovation and strategic development across Israeli municipalities, and The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, one of Israel’s leading non-profit NGOs, were inspired to spread government innovation more broadly across the country with the support and technical assistance of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

In Tel Aviv, the i-team tackled the high cost of living for young families by working with community members to find and implement cost saving initiatives like shared study spaces, peer-to-peer tutoring youth-led summer camps, and an affordable school lunch program. All together, these programs have the potential to save families as much as $1,400 annually per child. In addition, the team improved the quality of life and social cohesion for residents in the Neve Sh’anan, a neighborhood that is isolated from the rest of the city. The i-team helped to transform a derelict, crime-ridden bus station into a vibrant new hub for entrepreneurial organizations and helped launch a new youth center with educational, cultural, and sports programming for kids as well as adults, services.

The i-team in Be’er Sheva has secured grants to help small- and medium-sized businesses in the city thrive. This includes funding to host a series of forums with business owners to create an online information hub for businesses, and a grant from the Israeli national government to develop a mixed-use “Innovation Quarter” to strengthen existing high-growth, knowledge-based businesses and attract new ones. In addition, the i-team is focused on fostering clean and vibrant public spaces and is working with a private partner to support a renewal effort in the Beit Neighborhood.

In Jerusalem, the i-team has helped 600 entrepreneurs receive consulting services to strengthen their small businesses as part of the program’s focus on improving the business environment and secured $620,000 in funding from the City to fund alumni programs and civic organizations for young professionals. In addition, the i-team helped create a service delivery model that makes connects homeless youth to services and tracks outcomes. To date, 700 unsheltered youth are being monitored and supported and the model has been adopted to serve at-risk ultra-Orthodox youth as well.

“The Ministry of the Interior is thrilled to collaborate with Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Peres Center, creating a new platform for the Israeli municipalities to develop innovative solutions for the challenges they are facing and innovative ways of operating and giving the best possible service to the citizens” says Mordechai Cohen, Israeli Ministry of the Interior Director General. “The Ministry puts large efforts in the past few years in developing the fields of municipal innovation and the development of advanced, digital services to citizens of our cities and towns.”

The Israeli Ministry of the Interior will publish a call for applications for cities to join Hazira. If accepted, cities will hire a Chief Innovation Officer who will work alongside a dedicated team of city employees and will receive technical assistance and support to create measurable impact on a project that is a top priority for the Mayor. Hazira, which will be hosted by the Peres Center will help map each city’s innovation strategy, providing specific examples of evidence and consistency of approach.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Hazira program. We believe innovation is the key to solving a lot of global issues, and integrating it at the municipal level will have a huge impact on some of the challenges facing Israelis today,” said Efrat Duvdevani, Director General at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. “We look forward to working with the i-teams to bring innovation into new cities within the StartUp Nation!”

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 510 cities and 129 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: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $767 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter.

About the Israeli Ministry of the Interior:
The Ministry of the Interior plans and implements national policy in matters of local government, population registry, local emergency services and local and regional development, as well as supervises of local government elections. The Ministry operates on two levels: the national level, which sets guidelines and policy, and the regional level, an implementation level which maintains close contact with the local authorities and the public that needs the Ministry’s services.

In the past few years, the ministry had shifted its focus from regulation and supervision over municipalities, to the development of the cities and towns of Israel, and allocated it’s resources and budgets towards programs of economic and strategic development, human resource development and the development of digital services and local innovation in Israeli municipalities. In addition, the ministry leads in the past few years a large scale regional act, supporting the formation of Regional Clusters to improve regional cooperation and advance economies of scale.

About The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation:
Founded in 1996, The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation is one of Israel’s leading non-profit NGOs that develops and implements unique and cutting-edge programs to promote peace and innovation through Sports, Cultivation of Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Health, Business, Technology and Environment. The flagship programs serve hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries of all ages, religions, and genders, and are implemented with a network of local, regional, and international partners. The Peres Center for Peace houses the Israeli Innovation Center in Jaffa which showcases Israeli innovation past, present and future. For more information, visit the Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter accounts.