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Bloomberg Philanthropies Selects Top 35 Innovative Urban Ideas as Finalists in 2018 Mayors Challenge

35 Cities to Embark on 6-month Testing Phase in Competition for Grand Prize

 As Part of the Bloomberg American Cities Initiative, Challenge Will Invest $17.5 Million in Grants and Technical Assistance to Discover Innovative Solutions to Urgent Local Issues

NEW YORK – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the 35 Champion Cities in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face. These 35 urban innovations rose to the top of a competitive pool of more than 320 applications. The Champion Cities will now begin a six-month testing phase where they will conduct public prototypes of their ideas with grant funding of up to $100,000 per city, a new addition to the competition this year.

The Mayors Challenge returns to the U.S. as one of the first investments in the Bloomberg American Cities Initiative, an effort to help U.S. cities generate innovation and advance policy.

“We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people’s lives,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City. “The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective.”

Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the six-month “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase of the competition. In mid-March, core teams from each of the 35 Champion Cities will come to Bloomberg Philanthropies Ideas Camp in New York City where they will receive expert coaching and feedback from the other cities in the competition on ways to strengthen their ideas.  Next, all 35 cities will receive up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for their urban innovations. A new part of the Mayors Challenge, the “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase aims to help cities test core components of their ideas with residents, improve and refine their ideas, and develop a plan for implementation and impact measurement.

Cities will refine their ideas during this process and submit a new application in August 2018. In October, five winners will be selected from the 35 Champion Cities. Four will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.

The 35 Champion Cities performed the best against four key criteria: Their idea’s vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. A prestigious selection committee co-chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns, and comprising of distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives, and social innovation leaders, assessed the applications.

“The 35 Champion Cities are committed to using creativity and innovation to address the nation’s most pressing challenges,” said Ursula Burns, former Xerox Chairman and CEO. “I am eager to see how these cities assess and refine their ideas during the testing phase.”

“The 35 Champion Cities submitted proposals that demonstrate their ability to tackle important issues in innovative ways,” said Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan. “I look forward to hearing more about their commitment in the next phase of the competition.”

The topics addressed by the Champion Cities offer a snapshot of the top challenges faced by U.S. leaders. Climate, health, and jobs emerged as the most popular topics as cities look for unique ways to reduce carbon emissions and create renewable energy options, confront the opioid crisis, and prevent arrested youth from re-entering the criminal justice system.

The 35 Champion Cities of the 2018 Mayors Challenge are: Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Boulder, CO; Cary, NC; Charleston, SC; Chelsea, MA; Cheyenne, WY; Coral Gables, FL; Danbury, CT; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Durham, NC; Elk Grove, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Georgetown, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; Hartford, CT; Huntington, WV; Ithaca, NY; Lafayette, LA; Lincoln, NE; Los Angeles, CA; Louisville, KY; Miami/Miami Beach, FL; Moreno Valley, CA; New Rochelle, NY; Oklahoma City, OK; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Princeton, NJ; South Bend, IN; Vallejo, CA; and Washington, D.C.

For more details on the Champion Cities’ proposals go to:

The 2018 Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). Previous Mayors Challenge grand prizewinners include São Paulo, Brazil with a program to increase farmers’ income and reduce urban sprawl; Barcelona, Spain for work to create digital trust networks that support at-risk elderly citizens; and Providence, RI, for a program to measure and reduce the “word gap” among low-income children during pivotal brain development years. For more information, visit and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 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 charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Media Contact
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