American Cities Climate Challenge

Helping America’s Leading Climate Cities Go The Distance

The American Cities Climate Challenge is an unprecedented opportunity for 20 ambitious cities to significantly deepen and accelerate their efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for their residents.

Since June 2017 when Washington turned its back on the Paris Agreement, mayors from more than 230 cities representing more than 70 million Americans have said We Are Still In and will continue to push America forward.

These city leaders did so because:

  • Our cities are already experiencing the deleterious effects of climate change;
  • Our residents want more resilient, sustainable neighborhoods and local economies; and
  • Our mayors recognize that better health, jobs, and opportunities tomorrow depend on bold actions today.

For America’s cities to lead the way in reducing carbon pollution requires a different kind of commitment. Delivering on it will require local innovation, broad-based efforts to grow and deepen public support for a sustainable future, and a relentless focus from mayors and their partners to achieve results.

To support this vital work, Bloomberg Philanthropies and partners have announced a $70 million investment in the American Cities Climate Challenge. Selected cities – the 20 “Leadership Cities” – will be accepted into a two-year acceleration program, with powerful new resources and unprecedented access to world-leading support to help them meet – or beat – their near term carbon reduction goals.

 

Participating cities will: 

  • Make the Paris Agreement goals real. Mayors and their partners will scale and implement proven climate solutions and innovations that will help grow the economy, protect public health, and improve the quality of life for citizens.
  • Focus on high impact. Leadership Cities will focus their efforts on the two sectors that contribute most to emissions in American cities – buildings and transportation. In nearly every major American city, buildings and transportation consume more energy and are responsible for more carbon pollution than any other sector, totaling 90% of citywide emissions.
  • Create community. Leadership Cities will have access to world-leading experts who will help mobilize support for accelerated climate action, bringing together residents, businesses, and community organizations.
  • Lead a movement. The network of 20 Leadership Cities will leverage the unique power of collective learning and accountability and will provide insight and momentum for others. They will serve as role models for the rest of America.
  • Deliver results. Mayors and their teams will work with dedicated delivery experts to put their plans into practice, engage city departments, review evidence of progress regularly, and innovate and improve until the goals are met.

 

Through the American Cities Climate Challenge, Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide a robust technical assistance and support package, including:

  • A philanthropy-funded team member to facilitate the development and passage of high impact policies
  • Data, design, and innovation resources to help city officials design and deliver bold programming
  • Leadership development supports to get the best from key members of your city’s team
  • Implementation coaching to drive results
  • Citizen engagement supports to maximize community buy-in
  • Polling and communications support to amplify your megaphone
  • Robust peer-to-peer learning and networking to ensure the 20 Leadership Cities learn from and push one another
  • Rapid response grants to accelerate impact

 

Application process and timeline:

  • June 19: Open the Application. Online application emailed to the 100 most populous cities in America.
  • By July 18: Accept the Challenge. Initial applications focused on the city’s commitment and ambition will be submitted.
  • July-September: Plan for Impact. Bloomberg Philanthropies will visit shortlisted cities and work with them to develop goals, priority policies, and implementation plans that will serve as their final application.
  • Fall: Become a Leadership City. The 20 Leadership Cities will be announced. Then the real work will begin!

 

FAQs for cities:

Eligibility

1. How do we know if our city is eligible?

The American Cities Climate Challenge is open to the 100 most populous cities in America (according to the 2010 census). Eligible cities received an email directing them to the application on June 19th. The application must be submitted by July 18th.

2. Do you require cities to commit to Paris Climate goals?

Yes. Cities are required to sign up for We Are Still In or an equivalent climate commitment.

3. If our city is a current or former Bloomberg Philanthropies grantee, can we still apply?

Yes. All cities that meet the eligibility criteria can apply.

4. My city is undergoing a mayoral transition in the next two years. Can we still participate?

We welcome applications from all cities that meet the eligibility criteria. If a transition is coming, we ask cities to think about how they will anticipate and manage through this transition to ensure that the climate work stays on track.

The Work

5. What types of efforts will this program support?

Leadership Cities will focus their efforts on the two sectors that contribute most to emissions in American cities:  buildings and transportation. In nearly every major American city, buildings and transportation consume more energy and are responsible for more carbon pollution than any other sector, totaling 90 percent of citywide emissions.

6. What types of support will cities receive?

Cities will receive a robust technical assistance and support package valued at more than $2 million per city including:

  • A philanthropy-funded team member to facilitate the development and passage of high impact policies
  • Data, design, and innovation resources to help city officials design and deliver bold programming
  • Leadership development supports to help city officials get the best from key members of their teams
  • Implementation coaching to drive results
  • Citizen engagement supports to maximize community buy-in
  • Polling and communications support to amplify the city’s megaphone
  • Robust peer-to-peer learning and networking to ensure the 20 Leadership Cities learn from and push one another

7. What is the role of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in this effort?

NRDC will be the core partner supporting cities on overall project strategy, outreach and education, stakeholder engagement, advocacy, and coordination of best-in-class technical assistance from a variety of national organizations with expertise in buildings and transportation.

8. What is the role of Delivery Associates in this effort?

Delivery Associates will be the core partner supporting cities on implementation within City Hall including providing coaching to city staff on internal coordination, developing project milestones and metrics, and maintaining continued communication with the Mayor and other city leaders.

9. What other organizations are involved in the Challenge?

Technical assistance on high impact areas of local building and transportation strategies will be provided by a variety of national organizations who will be announced on an ongoing basis throughout the summer and fall of 2018.

10. How can local organizations be involved in this Challenge?

We know partnerships with local organizations are critical to success in many cities. After cities are selected, there may be additional opportunities for local organizations to be involved in the Challenge. For now, we encourage local organizations to support city applications however possible.

11. How much are cities expected to get done by the end of 2020?

We know this Challenge is ambitious, but these times call for ambitious action. We are confident that selected cities will leverage the robust resources provided through the Challenge to achieve the most impact possible on local climate goals and work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. We are hopeful that some cities will exceed their local Paris climate goals by 2021.

Application Process

12. How will cities be selected?

Through a two-part competitive application process. Bloomberg Philanthropies will select the 20 cities most likely to move America forward on delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement. The application was sent by email to eligible cities on June 19th.

13. Can local organizations partner with cities on their applications?

The applicant should be the City that was invited to apply. Local partner organizations can support their city by committing to help the city implement ambitious, high impact policies and programs to cut climate pollution and think through strategies and tactics to reach those milestones. Local organizations can also submit letters of support pledging their commitment to work in partnership with their city through the Challenge.

14. What happens after we apply?

Shortly after the deadline and application review, a select group of cities will be notified that they are moving on to phase two of the application process. Bloomberg Philanthropies and partners will visit shortlisted cities and work with them to develop goals, priority policies, and implementation plans that will serve as their final application. While the phase one application will largely focus on cities’ past track record and future commitment to this work, the phase two application will seek to go deeper, operationalizing this commitment and developing a plan to measure and move the numbers on it.

15. Can I arrange a phone call with the project team now to learn how to put together the most competitive application possible?

We encourage you to email your questions to ClimateChallenge@bloomberg.org and someone will be in touch to answer your questions.

16. What if we have questions that aren’t answered here?

Please contact us at ClimateChallenge@bloomberg.org.

 

Read more in the press release

 

The American Cities Climate Challenge is part of the American Cities Initiative, a suite of investments that empower cities to generate innovation and advance policy that moves the nation forward.