Mayors Challenge

INSPIRING BOLD, REPLICABLE INNOVATIONS DEVELOPED BY CITIES

The fourth Mayors Challenge is the first new component of the American Cities Initiative, a $200 million effort to empower U.S. cities to generate innovation and advance policy that moves the nation forward. The Mayors Challenge encourages city leaders to think big, be bold, and uncover inventive and shareable ideas that tackle today’s toughest problems.

Cities are uniquely positioned to encourage and foster the innovation, creativity, ideas, and solutions needed to solve pressing social and economic issues of the day – as well as meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Yet with increasing needs and diminishing budgets, local governments must find innovative new ways to get work done. That’s where the Mayors Challenge comes in – inspiring mayors and their partners to develop breakthrough solutions to cities’ most urgent concerns.

 

A CALL TO ACTION

As a call to local governments to propose bold solutions, the Mayors Challenge has been designed to help cities develop ideas that solve the most urgent problems facing cities today. After successful runs in the United States (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016), the Challenge returned to the U.S. in 2017 and was reimagined to address the urgent need for American mayors to innovate.

APPLYING THE BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES APPROACH TO INSPIRE BOLD INNOVATIONS FROM CITIES

  1. SOLVE AN URGENT PROBLEM

    The Mayors Challenge has been designed to help hundreds of cities develop ideas that solve the most urgent problems facing cities today. Innovation experts will visit each of the first 300 cities that sign up for the Challenge to deliver one-day city hall training workshops to accelerate idea development by drawing upon the expertise of the community.

  2. JOIN BLOOMBERG’S CITIES NETWORK

    All entrants will receive expert guidance to develop their ideas and will join Bloomberg’s cities network, which identifies, elevates, and promotes innovations that work across cities.

  3. WIN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

    As many as 35 Champion Cities will receive innovation funds to test their ideas and build local support. The five cities with the best ideas will receive millions to implement their ideas at scale.

PAST WINNERS

Across past competitions in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean more than 750 cities accepted the challenge, with the following cities emerging as winners: Providence, RI; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Santa Monica; CA; Philadelphia, PA; Barcelona, Spain; Athens, Greece; Kirklees, U.K.; Stockholm, Sweden; Warsaw, Poland; São Paulo, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Bogotá, Colombia; Medellín, Colombia; and Guadalajara, Mexico.

€5 MILLION GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Collaborative Care Networks – Barcelona, Spain

IMPROVING SOCIAL SERVICES AND CARING FOR AGING POPULATIONS BY LEVERAGING SOCIAL NETWORKS

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GROUNDBREAKING INNOVATION IS NEEDED MORE THAN EVER

At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we see that solutions to the world’s most pressing problems – from climate change to aging populations – can be found in cities. We believe that mayors have a unique power to overcome obstacles and get things done.

However, actually meeting the challenges of tomorrow – with all of the constraints that cities operate under – will require more agility and creativity than ever. Finding new solutions will require cities to form different partnerships, engage citizens in new ways, and use data more often and more effectively. Mayors across the U.S. and globally have already begun to generate solutions in areas such as public safety, education, and customer service. These inspiring examples of local innovation offer a roadmap, but breakthroughs pioneered in one city seldom transfer successfully or with urgency to other cities.

As a call to local governments to propose bold solutions, the Mayors Challenge incentivizes local leaders to think creatively, test new approaches, and identify groundbreaking new innovations in any policy area – from public health to sustainability to arts and culture.

$5 MILLION GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Providence Talks – Providence, Rhode Island

COMBINING PROVEN RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES FOR LOW-INCOME CHILDREN

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SURFACING, CULTIVATING AND SPREADING THE BEST BOLD IDEAS

Innovation comes from an intentional process of experimentation and exploration. Through the Mayors Challenge, cities are invited to define a clear problem and answer it with a solution that is as concrete as it is compelling. Once cities accept the challenge and apply, an independent Selection Committee reviews the proposals and selects the promising ideas to move forward. Finalists receive targeted coaching and attend Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering where entrants stretch, strengthen and refine their ideas in collaboration with one another, after which they resubmit their proposals. Winners receive cash prizes and implementation support to bring their ideas to life.

After a successful inaugural competition in the U.S., Bloomberg Philanthropies expanded the Mayors Challenge to Europe in 2014. The competition challenged city leaders to creatively address pressing local challenges, and hundreds of cities in Europe and the U.S. proposed ideas on a range of issues – from climate change to public health to youth unemployment. Many participating cities hosted local competitions to crowdsource ideas, conducted workshops with community stakeholders to develop partnerships, and engaged front-line municipal employees to contribute their expertise. Ten cities won prizes to implement their bold solutions.

$1 MILLION PRIZE WINNER: The Wellbeing Project – Santa Monica, CA

MEASURING WELLBEING TO GUIDE POLICY AND DECISION-MAKING

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AMBITIOUS VISION AND PURPOSEFUL EXPERIMENTATION

Hundreds of cities across the United States and Europe applied to the Mayors Challenge, advancing bold thinking and experimentation for solutions across both continents. The cities with the best ideas got the funds to make it happen – one grand prize of $5 million and four $1 million awards in the U.S., and the same figures in Euros for the European version.

Ten ideas from U.S. and European cities, showing exceptional vision and potential for deep and broad impact, were selected to receive funding and support. Bloomberg Philanthropies is currently working with the winning cities to help implement their ideas.

€1 MILLION PRIZE WINNER: Biochar, for a Better City Ecosystem – Stockholm, Sweden

COMBATTING CLIMATE CHANGE BY MOBILIZING CITIZENS TO PRODUCE BIOCHAR

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WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

 

  1. STAY UPDATED ON THE COMPETITION

    Visit the Mayors Challenge website and follow Bloomberg Cities on Twitter  and Instagram for news on the competition and other urban innovation efforts.

  2. LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW CITIES ARE INNOVATING

    Download our reports, read recent news, and watch videos.

  3. SEE MORE FROM IDEAS CAMP

    Municipal leaders meet to stretch, strengthen, and refine their ideas. View photos from our Ideas Camps in Berlin and New York, and watch videos to get the inside scoop on the experience.