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 will be available for 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).

2. 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.

3. 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

4. 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% of citywide emissions.

5. What types of support will cities receive?

  • Cities will receive a robust technical assistance and support package valued at more than $2 million 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

Application Process

6. 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 initial application will go live on June 19th and be due on July 18th.

7. 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 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.

8. What can we be doing between now and June 19th?

Take stock of the climate actions your city has already taken or committed to take so you can hit the ground running when the application launches.

9. 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.