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305 Cities Submit Their Bold Ideas to Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge

Bloomberg Philanthropies | September 24, 2012

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that 305 cities have submitted ideas in the first-ever Mayors Challenge, a competition to identify bold ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life – and can spread to other cities. The grand prize winning city will receive a $5 million innovation prize; four runner-up cities will receive $1 million each. A selection committee, also announced today, will help Bloomberg Philanthropies identify the 20 finalist cities that will advance to the next stage of the competition.

"The Mayors Challenge submissions showcase the tremendous depth of talent and level of creativity that exists in cities across the country,” said Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City. “These bold and innovative ideas are the kinds of solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward. Just narrowing the list down to 20 finalists will be a challenge in its own right.”

The 305 cities that applied come from 45 states and represent over 64 million Americans. Every region of the nation is well-represented: 33% of cities come from the South, 29% from the West, 20% from the Midwest and 18% from the Northeast. 75 of America’s 100 largest cities took the challenge; 51% of applicant cities have fewer than 100,000 residents.

The ideas generated by these cities were diverse. The two largest categories of ideas were economic development (20%) and citizen engagement to spur innovation (20%). Other significant categories include customer service (11%); sustainability (10%); public health (10%); and, education (9%). After the 20 finalists are selected, aggregate information on the ideas, innovation themes, and areas of focus will be made available.

Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced the members of the selection committee that will help determine the 20 finalists and five eventual prize winners. Cities will be judged on their idea’s vision and novelty, potential for impact, potential for replication in other cities, and the quality of the implementation plans.

Selection committee members include:

Teams from each of the 20 finalist cities will attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering in New York City in November. At Ideas Camp, city teams will work collaboratively to refine and strengthen their ideas, also benefitting from a range of innovation, program, and implementation experts. Coming out of Ideas Camp, finalists will receive individualized coaching to prepare their ideas for final submission in January 2013. Winners will be announced in spring 2013.

Mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more were eligible to compete in the Mayors Challenge. Participating cities had until September 14, 2012 to submit their applications.

The Mayors Challenge is the latest initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Project, which aims to spread proven and promising ideas among cities. Other Mayors Project investments include Cities of Service, Innovation Delivery Teams, and Financial Empowerment Centers.

To learn more about the Mayors Challenge, visit bloomberg.org/mayorschallenge. Click here to view the full of list of participating cities. 

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works primarily to advance five areas globally: the Arts, Education, the Environment, Government Innovation, which includes the Mayors Challenge, and Public Health. In 2011, $330 million was distributed. For more information, please go to www.bloombergdotorg.tumblr.com/about.

For more information on Bloomberg Philanthropies, media should contact Ty Trippet, ty@bloomberg.org, 212-205-0176.