bloomberg philanthropies
Frequently Asked Questions
2018 Mayors Challenge

Eligibility & Timeline

What is the current status of the 2018 Mayors Challenge competition?

35 Champion Cities were selected to win funds and test their ideas. These cities will submit final applications on August 20, 2018. They will be reviewed and evaluated and winners will be announced in October 2018. Please see Judging and the Finalist Process section for more details.

How do I know if my government is eligible? Can cities outside of the United States apply?

In order to be eligible for the 2018 Mayors Challenge, cities must be located within the United States, have more than 30,000 residents within the administrative division of the city or urban area, and must have a local government.

If I am a current or former Bloomberg Philanthropies grantee or a past U.S. Mayors Challenge winner, can I still apply?

Yes! All cities that meet the eligibility criteria can apply.

Judging and the Finalist Process

Who selects the winners?

The Selection Committee, consisting of a wide range of experts, will support Bloomberg Philanthropies in selecting both rounds of winners.

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. Past winners in the United States and European Mayors Challenges had fewer than 250,000 residents, including Providence, RI, and Kirklees in the United Kingdom. Santa Monica, CA, a 2013 winner, has fewer than 100,000 residents.

How does the testing phase work?

35 Champion Cities will win up to $100,000 each to test and refine their ideas. This funding will give each city the chance to demonstrate the power of its proposal and will create a coast-to-coast accelerator for civic innovation. Following their testing phase, cities will distill learnings and re-submit a final application.

What is Ideas Camp?

Ideas Camp is a two-day intensive workshop, hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Champion Cities will come together with innovation experts and leading urban practitioners from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ global network. Here, competitors become collaborators as cities help one another improve their ideas.

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.

When will the winning cities be announced?

Bloomberg Philanthropies will announce the winners of the competition in October 2018.

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.

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 help city leaders think big, be bold, and uncover new or unexpected – and ultimately, shareable – ideas that tackle today’s most urgent problems. Successful ideas might, among other things, reimagine or drastically improve how cities delivers services, create efficiencies, or improve citizen engagement. Innovation is no longer optional.

What characteristics have past winning cities shared?

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ work with cities throughout the world has shown us that the cities that are most successful at generating and implementing innovative ideas also place a priority on:

  • Openness and collaboration: Seeking ideas, solutions, and resources from both inside and outside city hall.
  • Partnership and engagement: Identifying and leveraging skillsets and funding throughout the community to sustain innovative solutions over time.
  • Smart use of technology: Understanding that technology is not, in itself, a solution but is often how to arrive at a solution.
  • Testing, learning, and adapting: Starting small, testing, learning, and making incremental impact to learn fast and early and to build both goodwill and strong partnerships.
  • Measurement: Articulating the intended impact, measuring it, and then holding people accountable.
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 urgent and emerging problems that are relevant today. Specifically, we want to make sure that you are presenting a 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.