bloomberg philanthropies
Competition Overview
2017 Mayors Challenge


    We're In

  • Take the Challenge

    June 26, 2017

    U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 or more are invited to participate. Reserve your city’s spot by August 18, 2017.

  • Accelerate your idea

    July 2017

    Be among the first 300 cities to RSVP and guarantee your city its own in-person Idea Accelerator workshop, designed to help city leaders strengthen idea development by drawing upon the expertise of the community. The one-day workshops will take place starting in late July and run through September.

  • Submit your best idea

    October 2017

    Cities complete the initial application describing an urgent challenge and how they will tackle that challenge in an innovative way.

  • Ready, Set, Innovate

  • Win innovation funds to test ideas

    January 2018

    35 Champion Cities will be awarded up to $100,000 to begin to bring their ideas to life. Champion Cities will test and refine these ideas, creating a coast-to-coast civic-solutions laboratory.

  • Take it to the next level at Ideas Camp

    March 2018

    Champion Cities come together for an intensive workshop with innovation experts and leading urban practitioners from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ global network. Here, competitors become collaborators as cities help one another improve their ideas.

  • Pull it all together

    August 2018

    Champion Cities refine their ideas after the testing phase and submit a more detailed application focused on implementation, timelines, partners, and more.

  • Announcing the Mayors Challenge Winners

  • Win millions

    October 2018

    Bloomberg Philanthropies announces the Mayors Challenge winners. The grand prize winner will be awarded $5 million and four cities will each win $1 million to bring their ideas to life.


Selection Criteria

Applications are evaluated across four distinct criteria:


Ideas should be bold, creative, and, importantly, should tackle the most pressing issues facing your city today.


In order to be successful, ideas should have the potential to significantly improve citizens’ lives.


Though implementation plans may not be fully developed, cities must demonstrate their commitment and a viable path to bringing their ideas to life. This includes garnering support from citizens and key stakeholders.


Winning ideas will not only be beneficial to the city generating the idea, but also have the potential to spread – and succeed in – other cities. Issues addressed should be timely and relevant. We are looking for approaches that address problems other cities face. Other cities should be able to import and adapt the best ideas to benefit their own citizens.

Past Winners

Learn about past Mayors Challenge winning ideas.

Cities will define a serious problem, craft a bold solution, and learn from global experts


Competition Rules and Criteria

  1. Your city must be in the United States. Click here to ensure your city meets the eligibility criteria.

  2. Your city must have at least 30,000 residents within the administrative division of the city.

  3. Applications must be submitted by a city hall or city department (or the equivalent local central administrative body) under the direction of an authorized executive or body (e.g., mayor, deputy mayor, chief executive, city manager, or equivalent).

  4. Each city may submit only ONE application. While the city may involve partners from other governmental entities in generating the idea, the submitted application must come from a single city government. The individual(s) completing the application online must be designated by the city’s authorized executive or executive body.

  5. To compete, every city must reserve its spot through the website by August 18, 2017.

  6. You must submit your application online by October 20, 2017. You can submit the application at any time that day, as long as it is still October 20, 2017 in your city. All applications must be submitted through this website.

  7. Bloomberg Philanthropies may publicize the list of cities that participate in any stage of the competition.

  8. Once a city has applied, Bloomberg Philanthropies may make aspects of that application public. (This applies primarily to cities that are selected to advance as Champion Cities or winners.)

  9. The prize money cities receive is intended for use in implementing winning ideas, in accordance with applicable laws. Funds will be distributed over a two- or three-year period, depending on the particulars of the project. Any excess funds must be used to help build winning cities' innovation capacity.

  10. Each entrant must agree to any and all legal terms and conditions of the Mayors Challenge.

Have additional questions?

Read our frequently asked questions