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Twenty Cities Advance in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Latin American and Caribbean Mayors Challenge

20 Jun 2016

Finalists selected from pool of 290 cities that submitted bold ideas to address urban challenges and improve city life 

Finalists now competing for $9 Million USD in Innovation Funds

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the 20 Latin American and Caribbean cities selected as finalists in its 2016 Mayors Challenge, a competition that encourages cities to generate bold ideas that solve urban challenges and improve city life – and have potential to spread.  The finalists, hailing from 10 countries, will move forward to compete for a $5 million USD grand prize and four $1 million awards, as well as extensive implementation support. The ideas reflect creative new approaches to some of the most pressing issues facing cities in the region, including mobility, youth unemployment, waste management, obesity, and social and economic inclusion for immigrants and people with disabilities.

“We received so many great ideas for this Mayors Challenge, and narrowing it down to just 20 finalists was a big challenge in itself. These ideas really capture the diversity of the region and the creativity and commitment of its leaders and citizens in making cities work better. Each of them has the potential to improve the lives of local residents — and if they work, to spread far and wide. We look forward to working with all of the finalists on their proposals and to seeing the winning cities bring them to life” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.

The 2016 Mayors Challenge is Bloomberg Philanthropies’ first in Latin America and the Caribbean following successful competitions in the United States and Europe. After receiving submissions from 290 eligible cities in April, Bloomberg Philanthropies conducted an intensive review of the ideas with the support of Bloomberg’s extensive global network and a selection committee of 13 innovation and policy experts from across Latin America and the Caribbean. Ultimately, the top 20 best and most innovative ideas were selected to move forward in the competition.

The 20 finalist ideas were evaluated against four key criteria – their idea’s vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. Finalists will next attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp in Bogotá, Colombia – a two-day convening in July where leading innovation experts and peer cities will help finalists take their proposals from good to great. Prize winners will be announced by the end of 2016.

The finalists’ ideas (outlined below) illustrate fresh thinking to address common urban challenges experienced by cities across regions:

1. Asunción, Paraguay – Data: Closing the city’s socio-economic data gap by conducting citzen-led research to gather demographic information that can inform and measure the impact of policymaking for the first time.

2. Barueri, Brazil – Social Inclusion for People with Disabilities/Workforce Development: Increasing access to the workforce for people with disabilities by creating a physical and virtual network to improve job training, analyze workplace conditions, and provide technical assistance to employers and job candidates.

3. Bogotá, Colombia – Education: Twice daily, the city will leverage all transportation channels, public facilities, volunteers and the city’s cultural history to enhance and shorten the severe school commute times for children.

4. Cap-Haïtien , Haiti – Waste Solutions/ Environment: Reducing deforestation and mangrove destruction by creating community biodigesters, which are closed containers that break down organic waste and turn it into renewable energy.

5. Caracas, Venezuela – Social Inclusion for People with Disabilities/Mobility: Enrolling volunteers to drive people with motor disabilities to and from public transport points and providing assistance during their commutes,  opening access to education, culture, healthcare, employment and productive citizenship for a vulnerable segment of the population.

6. Corumbá, Brazil – Environment/ Economic Development: Combatting further environmental degradation caused by improper disposal of ore – a mining byproduct – by repurposing the waste into productive materials for construction.

7. Curitiba, Brazil – Social Inclusion for People with Disabilities/Mobility: Drawing on its history of transit innovation, improving the mobility of disabled people by integrating more inclusive transport services and introducing better designed routes.

8. Estación Central, Chile – Social Inclusion for Immigrants / Entrepreneurship: Promoting social inclusion by matching immigrants with new business ideas to technical assistance, office space, and local entrepreneurs looking to partner to launch a new startup.

9. Godoy Cruz, Argentina – Waste Solutions: Preventing illegal waste disposal in canals – an essential feature of the city’s irrigation system – by placing sensors to monitor and identify the exact location where infractions occur.

10. Guadalajara, México – Transparency / Government Efficiency: Tackling  corruption by streamlining the legal requirements for construction projects through a new geo-referenced app that publicly maps business names, plans, licenses and payments, speeding processing times and increasing transparency.

11. Kingston, Jamaica – Youth Unemployment / Workforce Development: Tackling entrenched youth unemployment through a mobile digital platform that encourages young people to explore, create, and access career opportunities in a variety of industries, especially Jamaica’s cultural and music industry, based on their strengths and interests.

12. Medellín, Colombia – Public Safety / Financial Empowerment: Reducing demand for illegal loans that finance organized crime by creating neighborhood lending collectives that offer low-interest commercial loans and connections to employment.

13. Milagro, Ecuador – Environmental Sustainability: Encouraging emergency preparedness for children through the creation of a network chaired and formed by students that promotes better preparation for adverse weather and natural disasters.

14. Pudahuel, Chile – Education: Pairing older residents wishing to volunteer with the children of working families in need of after-school child care, limiting social isolation for seniors and providing a vital service for families.

15. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Public Health: Improving children’s healthcare standards and outcomes by removing silos and integrating data across agencies to improve the health and wellbeing of children ages zero to six.

16. Santiago (Commune), Chile – Public Health: Through citywide challenges, encourage neighborhood groups to work together to reduce childhood obesity; communities earn points they can use to fund local recreational and civic infrastructure.

17. São Paulo, Brazil – Economic Development: Creating an online exchange that connects growing local demand for locally produced farm products from restaurants, markets, and schools to struggling local farmers on the outskirts of the city, addressing a market failure.

18. Tlalnepantla de Baz, México – Social Cohesion: Publishing and promoting a municipal catalog of good deeds, an effort to address widespread civic apathy by engaging citizens in acts like helping the elderly and improving the local environment.

19. Tuxtla Gutiérrez, México – Anti-Corruption: Fighting corruption and improving efficiency by streamlining service delivery for public facing transactions and allowing users to monitor the activity of civil servants through a new mobile app.

20. Valdivia, Chile – Entrepreneurship: Directing promising academic research toward practical problems and helping the local economy by testing bright ideas from local universities in real-world markets  with a new mobile lab.

“This year’s finalists are using innovation to address the concrete, clear, and urgent needs of citizens – with noteworthy emphasis on vulnerable populations,” said James Anderson, the head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation Programs. “There is so much cities around the globe can learn from the way these finalists are engaging citizens and data to meet pressing needs.”

To learn more about the Mayors Challenge, visit www.mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars.  For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagram, Snapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

Media Contact

Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rebecca Carriero, (212) 205-0182 | rebeccac@bloomberg.org