A competition calling on city leaders for

BOLD Ideas

2016 mayors challenge • latin america & the caribbean


The Mayors Challenge encourages cities to generate bold new ideas that solve urban challenges and improve city life – and have the potential to spread.


The 2016 Mayors Challenge


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São Paulo, Brazil Grand Prize Winner

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Bogotá, Colombia Winner

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Guadalajara, Mexico Winner

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Medellín, Colombia Winner

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Santiago, Chile Winner

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Each year, the competition invites hundreds of cities in a new region to define a serious problem and to develop bold, new ideas to solve it. Cities submit an initial application with their best idea to improve the way government works and impact the lives of citizens. During the second stage, selected cities advance as finalists and receive coaching and support from experts and their peers to strengthen and stretch their idea. Finalists compete to win millions of dollars to bring their bold idea to life and join a global innovation network for ongoing inspiration and support.


This year, the Mayors Challenge came to Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 900 Latin American and Caribbean cities were invited to compete, and 290 cities submitted applications, representing 19 countries in the region. Participating cities represented 31 percent of all eligible cities in Latin America and the Caribbean – topping the 24 and 26 percent participation rates experienced in the United States and European competitions, respectively.


In June 2016, twenty finalist cities were selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies with the support of a selection committee of 13 innovation and policy experts from across the region. In July, teams from each finalist city attended Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering in Bogotá, Colombia. The Ideas Camp program brought peer cities together with leading innovation experts, allowing finalists to strengthen and stretch their original ideas. Read more about Ideas Camp here.


The final applications were submitted in September, and were carefully reviewed by the selection committee. The 2016 grand prize winner is São Paulo (Brazil). Bogotá (Colombia), Medellín (Colombia), Guadalajara (Mexico) and Santiago (Chile) are also winners of the 2016 Mayors Challenge competition.


Learn about Mayors Challenge Winners


2016 grand prize winner


São Paulo: Growing Farmers’ Income, Shrinking Urban Sprawl

The Problem: Although 70 percent of the produce consumed in Brazil comes from family agriculture, local farmers on the urban fringes of São Paulo struggle to market their produce and make a living. Discouraged, farmers become vulnerable in the face of urban sprawl and sell their land for development. In addition to further reducing productive activities in the suburbs, this process aggravates environmental problems that impact the water supply of 5 million people.

The Idea: São Paulo will strengthen the local agriculture value chain, promoting sustainable land use and job opportunities by creating a digital farm-to-table exchange platform. The platform will connect local farmers on the far edges of the city to the growing number of restaurants, markets, and institutions in need of locally grown produce. This will allow for inclusive development in the urban fringes and, over time, generate land value through sustainable use and protection of water reservoir areas.

The Inspiration: City officials were inspired by the growing demand for local and organic produce and the potential of family-based agriculture on the urban fringes. They were also encouraged by many initiatives undertaken by civil society in fair trade, sustainable consumption, solidarity economics, cooperation networks, and co-creation.

Words from São Paulo: “Designing value chains in the city is about connecting the dots. We realized that through technology we could address the missing links in the local food production chain.”

Mayors Challenge

Creating better, longer lives for the greatest number of people


2014 grand prize winner


Vincles BCN: Collaborative Care Networks for Better Aging

The Problem: By 2040, one in four Barcelona residents will be over 65. As people age their social networks weaken, resulting in fewer human interactions. This not only reduces quality of life, but also creates a healthcare burden: lonely and isolated individuals are more likely to develop health complications. Family, friends, volunteers and professional caregivers want to support elderly citizens, but do not have a way to coordinate with one another to make sure seniors are being cared for and engaged on an ongoing basis.

The Innovation: The City will create a digital platform, “Vincles,” that brings together and coordinates the support of friends, family members, neighbors, and professional care givers around at-risk seniors.

By design, Vincles will help to answer practical questions: Who is picking up groceries? Who is free to change a light bulb? Whose responsibility is it to call our senior neighbor two or three times this month? The digital platform will make these roles clear and help coordinate among the different members of the “trust network,” reducing social isolation and health risks by helping to facilitate more in-person interactions.

The Impact: The City of Barcelona conducted a pilot of Vincles and is now working with developers and elderly people to strengthen both the technology and the associated support systems. The City will expand the service to two neighborhoods in late 2016 before beginning to roll-out the program at scale in 2017.


2013 grand prize winner


Providence Talks:  Preparing Every Child for Success in School

The Problem: Research shows that, by the time they enter kindergarten, children growing up in low-income households in the United States will have heard 30 million fewer words than their peers from middle and high-income households. Low-income children hear 73% fewer words than children in high-income households and 54% fewer words than children in middle-income families. This “word gap” undermines school readiness and performance.

The Innovation: Providence Talks helps parents use more words with their children during the critical brain development years from birth to age three. The program uses new technology that counts the number of words that children are hearing and the amount of parent-child “conversational turns” that are taking place in the home. The technology is complimented by monthly visits by coaches who show parents their progress and offer tips for improvement.

The Impact: A pilot program, launched in 2014, enrolled over 175 families and exposed the severity of the “word gap” problem: more than half of the children participating in the program were hearing far fewer words than they need for healthy brain development. After completing initial coaching sessions, however, those families who started out at the lowest levels increased the words spoken in the home by 50%, moving from an average of 8,000 words per day to an average of 12,500 words per day. Research indicates that children should hear approximately 15,000 words per day for optimal development.