asked questions

•  Eligibility  •
How do I know if my government is eligible? Can cities outside of Latin America and the Caribbean apply?

In order to be eligible for the 2016 Mayors Challenge, cities must be located in a country within Latin America and the Caribbean; have more than 100,000 residents within the administrative division of the city or urban area; and must have a local government. Ineligible cities include those run directly by national governments; municipalities within capital or federal districts; and subdivisions or districts of cities.

Over 900 cities in the following countries have been invited to participate:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
•  City Ideas  •
How many ideas can each city submit?

Each city can submit only one application, representing a single idea that addresses a specific problem. Applications must be submitted by a city hall or a 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). The individual(s) completing the application online must be designated by the city’s authorized executive or body.

What do you mean when you say an idea has to be “new”?

We strongly encourage every city to use the Mayors Challenge to develop a bold idea that is new or unexpected and that allows the city to experiment with a different approach to solving a tough problem. We are interested in supporting new ideas that solve major social or economic issues in the local area; improve customer service for citizens or businesses; create government efficiencies; or that improve citizen engagement.

Can we submit an idea that is already in the implementation phase?

No. Ideas that are currently being implemented and that have already been launched are not eligible for the competition.

What if the idea is new in my city but has been tried or implemented in another city or country?

While your idea may stand on the shoulders of an idea that came before, cities will have to develop a significantly new element or approach in order to win. To be competitive, the applicant city must turn its idea into something that no city has done before.

Should I collaborate with external partners as part of my plan?

While it’s not required, we strongly encourage collaboration — both across government departments and with citizens. One of the best ways to generate new ideas and increase impact is to leverage resources, talent, and creativity from other sectors and from residents.

What makes a great idea?

We’re looking for bold solutions to important problems that are relevant today and/or will be relevant in the near future. Specifically, we want to make sure that you are presenting a bold, creative vision that has the potential for meaningful impact. Your plan should demonstrate your city’s ability to implement your vision, and the potential to transfer your idea to other cities. Click here to read more about the selection criteria and read more about past winners and finalists to learn about what makes an idea great.

•  Applying  •
Can applications come from partnerships of two or more cities, city and regional governments, or other combinations of government entities?

While submissions can be made only by single cities, a city may submit an idea that involves supporting partners. Partners, for the purpose of the Mayors Challenge, can mean businesses, nonprofit organizations, citizens, and other governmental entities, including, but not limited to, regional governments, sub-municipalities, and a range of other public systems or institutions.

What happens after my city replies?

Shortly after you reserve your spot, you will receive additional information about the application process and unique login credentials for your city. We encourage cities to immediately consider a serious problem they want to solve. We have developed tools to help you look for big opportunities to solve major challenges and improve city life.

Do I have to submit the application online?

Yes. All cities are required to submit their ideas through an online application, which includes 23 questions. In order to submit an application, eligible cities must first reply to reserve a spot in the competition.

How long does it take to complete the application?

The online application allows cities to view all questions at any time – cities can answer questions in any order as long as they submit the final responses by the 15 April 2016 deadline. By design, the online application includes tools to help applicants track their progress and develop the best responses. Cities are encouraged to start the process as soon as possible. All applications must be submitted online.

What if I have a question about applying or filling out the application itself?

If you don’t find the answer here, you can email questions to Additional technical assistance will be available along the way to participating cities.

•  Judging and the Finalist Process  •
Who selects the finalists? Who will select the five winners?

The Selection Committee, consisting of a wide range of experts, will support Bloomberg Philanthropies in selecting the finalists and winners. Learn more about the Selection Committee and selection criteria by clicking here.

Will big cities have an advantage over smaller cities?

No. We will judge each idea based on its strengths in addressing the selection criteria. All applications will be judged equally. Winners in the United States and European Mayors Challenges had fewer than 250,000 residents, including Providence, RI and the city of Kirklees in the United Kingdom.

What is Ideas Camp?

Ideas Camp is a two-day intensive workshop, hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies. At camp, finalist teams will be challenged to stretch, strengthen, and refine their ideas. Finalists will have the opportunity to work with experts and other city teams to make their ideas better.

What are the legal terms and conditions I must agree to as a participant in the competition?

The complete terms and conditions are available here.

What happens after my idea is submitted?

All applications will be reviewed and evaluated after the deadline. You will receive a notification from Bloomberg Philanthropies if you are selected as a finalist by late June 2016.

Are you flexible in what legal entity actually receives the funds?

Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the winners to determine the most effective way for your city to receive the funds, in accordance with local regulations.

•  Sign Up  •
Do I have to reply to participate?

Yes. Eligible cities should indicate that they intend to participate by signing up online no later than 15 March 2016. If your city is eligible, you will receive login information to start the online application after replying.

Does someone from the city have to reply? Can a private citizen apply? What about a community group?

Each city may submit only one application and the application has to be submitted by a city employee who has been designated by the mayor’s office or other executive body. Note, that while the application must be submitted by the city’s designee, ideas can come from any source, including from citizens, NGOs, academic institutions, etc. Also note that ideas must have support from the mayor.

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