Bloomberg Philanthropies Issues $9 Million 'Mayors Challenge'

Bloomberg Philanthropies, the private philanthropy of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, has announced the launch of the Mayors Challenge, a $9 million competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that address major urban challenges and improve life for city dwellers.

Through the challenge, which kicks off this week, Bloomberg Philanthropies will award one $5 million grand prize and four $1 million prizes to the cities that come up with the boldest, most replicable ideas. The ideas must improve city life by addressing a significant social or economic issue, improving the customer service experience for citizens or businesses, increasing government efficiency, and/or enhancing accountability, transparency, and public engagement.

Cities have until September 14 to submit their solution, and twenty finalists will be announced before the end of the year. Teams from each of those cities will attend the Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering where top policy, program, and innovation experts will help cities strengthen and stretch their ideas to ensure the greatest impact. From there, finalists will receive individualized coaching to prepare their ideas for final submission.

To be announced next spring, the winning teams will be chosen based on their overall vision and novelty of their ideas, the potential for success and replication of those ideas in other cities, and the quality of their implementation plans. A selection committee co-chaired by Shonna Brown, senior vice president of Google.org, and Ron Daniel of Bloomberg Philanthropies and McKinsey & Company will choose the winners.

"Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources," said Bloomberg. "Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people's lives and move America forward. The Mayors Challenge creates an opportunity for mayors to champion their boldest ideas — and to have them take root locally and perhaps spread nationally."