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Bloomberg Philanthropies Expands Innovation Teams Program to 12 New American Cities

Cities of Boston, Mobile, Minneapolis, Seattle, Syracuse Among Awardees

Reflecting International Interest, Program Also Expands to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that 12 U.S. cities have been selected to participate in the $45 million expansion of its Innovation Teams program. The program aims to improve the capacity of City Halls to effectively design and implement new approaches that improve citizens’ lives – relying on data, open innovation, and strong project and performance management to help mayors address pressing urban challenges.

The grants announced today will go to the U.S. cities of Albuquerque, NM; Boston, MA; Centennial, CO; Jersey City, NJ; Long Beach, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Mobile, AL; Minneapolis, MN; Peoria, IL; Rochester, NY; Seattle, WA; and Syracuse, NY. Funding will allow mayors in each of these cities to create dedicated innovation teams — or “i-teams” – to develop and deliver bold new approaches to issues such as affordable housing, public safety, infrastructure finance, customer service, and job growth.

Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced that two non-U.S. cities will receive innovation team  grants: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem will use his i-team to focus on poverty and economic development, while Mayor Ron Huldai of Tel Aviv-Yafo will focus on cost of living and illegal immigration.

“Successful innovation depends as much on the ability to generate ideas as it does the capacity to execute them – and i-teams help cities do both,” said philanthropist Michael Bloomberg. “More and more city governments around the world are eager to innovate, so we’re excited to work with 12 new U.S. cities, and to expand the program beyond our borders by bringing i-teams to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Yafo.”

Grant funds will allow mayors to hire and fund i-teams for up to three years. These teams function as in-house innovation consultants, moving from one mayoral priority to the next. Using Bloomberg Philanthropies’ tested Innovation Delivery approach, the i-teams will help agency leaders and staff go through a data-driven process to assess problems, generate responsive new interventions, develop partnerships, and deliver measurable results.

“The fact is there are very few tools or reliable approaches available to mayors who want to innovate more often, more effectively, and with a better return on that investment for residents,” said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs for Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ i-teams program helps City Halls get better at innovation, which is vital given the increasing constraints under which so many of our mayors work today.”

This is the second round of i-teams grants made as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation portfolio, which focuses on promoting public sector innovation. The first round of grants were made to the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans. Successes include reducing retail vacancies in Memphis, minimizing unnecessary ambulance trips to the emergency room in Louisville, cutting licensing time for new restaurants in Chicago, reducing homelessness in Atlanta, and reducing the murder rate in New Orleans.

“Chicago’s small business climate has never been stronger, and our Innovation Team is a major reason for the progress we’ve made,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The Team has transformed the way we solve problems and delivered impressive results. Given their success on small business, we’ve now deployed the Team to tackle some of our most pressing social challenges, like youth violence and delivery of public benefits. I look forward to sharing our experience with new mayors joining the i-teams program.”

More than 90 American cities were invited to apply; eligible cities had at least 100,000 residents and mayors with at least two years left in office. Cities will receive from $400,000 to $1,000,000 annually for up to three years. In addition to the grants, cities receive robust implementation support and opportunities to exchange lessons learned and best practices with peers in other cities. Newly formed i-teams will hit the ground running in each city no later than spring 2015.

Key Facts

  • 5 of the 12 U.S. mayors are in their first 12 months of office (Boston, Long Beach, Minneapolis, Seattle, Rochester)
  • 4 of the 12 U.S. cities are led by female mayors (Centennial, Minneapolis, Rochester, Syracuse)
  • 5 of the 12 U.S. cities will initially focus on economic development (Albuquerque, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Mobile, Seattle)
  • 4 of the 12 U.S. cities have populations less than 200,000 (Centennial, Mobile, Peoria, Syracuse)
  • Largest city by population receiving grant: Los Angeles (3,884,307)
  • Smallest city by population receiving grant: Centennial (106,114)


About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $452 million. For more information on the philanthropy, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.