In Conclusion

The Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge was designed to encourage city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face. In response, extraordinary city practitioners across the country have pulled out the stops to build creative responses, and hone the skills that are fundamental to innovation.

Over six months the Challenge supported Champion Cities to conduct over 100 tests that involved more than 4000 City Hall staff, and engage more than 15,000 residents in shaping their ideas. Along the way, these cities also raised millions of dollars in outside funding, a significant build on Bloomberg Philanthropies' investment. They have not only developed bold and promising solutions - many also embraced new approaches and attitudes that have the potential to make a ripple effect on their working culture.

In October 2018, nine cities were selected as 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge Winners. These winning cities will each receive $1 million to bring their ideas to life and impact homelessness, the opioid crisis, mobility, climate change, and economic opportunity.

  • Denver, CO, will work to improve air quality by installing cutting-edge air-pollution sensors around schools that will provide data to inform the city's approach to making the air safer for all.
  • Durham, NC, will work to get drivers out of their cars and into alternative modes of transit by incentivizing behavior change, for example with prizes.
  • Fort Collins, CO, will work to make housing safer and more energy efficient for low-income renters by offering landlords a creative mix of low-cost financing, simplified underwriting, and pre-screened contractors.
  • Georgetown, TX, will become the first energy independent community in the country by partnering with residents to install solar panels and battery storage at their homes.
  • Huntington, WV, will support first responders on the front line of the opioid crisis by embedding mental healthcare professionals within emergency response departments, ensuring that first responders are able to give the best care possible to opioid users.
  • Los Angeles, CA, will develop a new way for residents to help solve the city's homelessness crisis by building additional units of housing on their property and renting them to Angelenos who are homeless or at risk of homelessness for an agreed upon period of time.
  • New Rochelle, NY, will improve development projects by using virtual reality technology to clearly present plans for new buildings and public spaces to residents.
  • Philadelphia, PA, will work to make the justice system less traumatic for young people under 18 by creating new facilities specifically designed to address trauma and connect kids with resources rather than sending them to regular police stations.
  • South Bend, IN, will help low-income and part-time workers with unreliable transport options commute to their jobs by partnering with ride-share companies and employers, who will help offset the cost.

Click here to find out more about their ideas – and follow these cities' progress as they move from inspiration to implementation.

While only a handful of cities were selected to win, all walk away as winners, and that much closer to solving some of their toughest concerns.

And that's just the start. We firmly believe that each of these 35 Champion Cities is a lynchpin in a wider movement. More and more city leaders are calling on innovation methods to give them the firepower they need to make a dramatic impact on city problems. In the years to come, we hope it will be common fare to see cities using prototyping to help manage risk, encourage innovation, design better services, and ultimately, improve life for their residents.