A CALL TO ACTION
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. The competition includes a $5 million USD grand prize and four $1 million awards to the cities that generate the most powerful ideas. Across the U.S. and Europe, nearly 500 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; and Warsaw, Poland. The competition now moves to Latin America and the Caribbean where over 900 cities are eligible to apply.
BUILDING CAPACITY FOR INNOVATION
Mayors Challenge finalists evolve their ideas over several months through personalized coaching and skills-building. A highlight of the coaching process is Ideas Camp – a two-day conference convening municipal leaders from each city as well as leading innovation, policy, and programming experts who partner with and push city teams to stretch, strengthen and refine their innovations.
TURNING IDEAS INTO REALITY
While the selection committee looks for ideas that are bold and visionary, they also assess each city’s demonstrated ability to implement the idea and generate measurable impact. And in addition to prize money, winning cities receive expert coaching and technical assistance to bring their ideas to life.
The Mayors Challenge is an ideas competition that encourages cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life – and that have the potential to spread to other cities.
Cities are uniquely positioned to encourage and foster the innovation, creativity, ideas, and solutions needed to tackle the pressing social and economic issues facing the world today – 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 – a competition for cities that inspires mayors and their partners to develop breakthrough solutions.
APPLYING THE BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES APPROACH TO INSPIRE BOLD INNOVATIONS FROM CITIES
€5 MILLION GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Collaborative Care Networks – Barcelona, Spain
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
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
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
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