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Bloomberg Philanthropies Launches Mayors Challenge: Competition for American Cities to Solve Problems, Share Solutions

Michael R. Bloomberg today announced Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life. The Mayors Challenge will award one $5 million grand prize and four $1 million prizes to the cities that come up with the boldest and most replicable ideas.

“Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources,” said Michael Bloomberg , philanthropist and Mayor of New York City. “Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward. The Mayors Challenge creates an opportunity for mayors to champion their boldest ideas – and to have them take root locally and perhaps spread nationally.”

The Mayors Challenge, which officially kicks off this week, invites the 1,300 mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit their city’s boldest idea. The innovative idea must improve city life by addressing a major social or economic issue, improving the customer service experience for citizens or businesses, increasing government efficiency, and/or enhancing accountability, transparency, and public engagement.

“While our cities are unique, many of the challenges we face – from obesity to pension costs to preparing residents for the jobs of tomorrow to just doing more with less – are very similar,” continued Bloomberg. “Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to spreading proven and promising ideas among cities. The Mayors Challenge will enable Bloomberg Philanthropies to find and elevate the best ideas coming out of cities from coast to coast.”

“Like Mayor Bloomberg, I believe that many solutions to national challenges are achievable through local action,” said incoming U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “Bloomberg Philanthropies is filling a major gap by incentivizing local government innovation that must happen if our country is going to succeed. The Mayors Challenge is a terrific opportunity for America’s mayors to showcase the pragmatic ingenuity that keeps America’s cities strong and can move our nation forward.”

Challenge details include:
– The submission deadline for ideas is September 14, 2012. In late 2012, 20 finalists will be announced and teams from each of those cities will attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering where top policy, program, and innovation experts will help cities strengthen and stretch their ideas to ensure the greatest impact.
– Coming out of Camp, finalists will receive individualized coaching to prepare their ideas for final submission. Winners will be announced in spring 2013, with a total of $9 million dollars going to five cities to jumpstart implementation.- Winners will be selected based on their idea’s vision and novelty, potential for impact, potential for replication in other cities, and on the quality of implementation plans.
– A selection committee, co-chaired by Shona Brown , Senior Vice President and head of Google.Org, and Ron Daniel , Bloomberg Philanthropies board member and Former Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company where he is still active, will help Bloomberg Philanthropies select the winning cities.

The Mayors Challenge is the latest initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Project, which aims to spread proven and promising ideas among cities. Other Mayors Project investments include Cities of Service, Innovation Delivery Teams, and Financial Empowerment Centers. To learn more and to submit your city’s bold idea to the Mayors Challenge, visit

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works primarily to advance five areas globally: the Arts, Education, the Environment, Government Innovation, which includes the Mayors Challenge, and Public Health. In 2011, $330 million was distributed.