Bloomberg Philanthropies will invest more than $200m over the next three years in the initiative
Former New York city mayor, Michael R Bloomberg, has launched a $200m project to help city authorities technologically innovate and advance policy.
The American Cities Initiative is intended to address a series of “unprecedented challenges” from rapid technological change to central government’s “deepening disengagement” on urban issues and tackling climate change and gun violence.
Cities need new tools that will allow mayors to do what they do best: innovate, solve problems, and work together to move the needle on the issues that matter to citizens and America’s future, delegates were told at the US Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting in Miami where the project was announced.
The American Cities Initiative will focus on three core areas:
● promoting bold leadership and effective problem-solving in city halls;
● advancing critical policies and legislation in areas ranging from education to climate change to opioid abuse; and
● empowering citizens – including artists, volunteers, and entrepreneurs – to solve problems and strengthen social cohesion.
The first offering of the initiative is the 2017 Mayors Challenge, a nationwide innovation competition for cities with at least 30,000 residents. The programme will help hundreds of cities develop, test, and implement bold solutions to emerging challenges.
As part of the scheme, up to $17.5m in grants and technical assistance will be provided to participating cities and innovation experts will be assigned to visit the first 300 cities that sign up for the challenge for training sessions.
“We are in the middle of a political era defined by Washington impotence, but as Washington has grown more dysfunctional, cities have begun to play a vital role in determining our nation’s reputation as a global superpower,” said Bloomberg, who is also founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies which is behind the investment.
“The American Cities Initiative will incentivise and support the innovative efforts of those cities paving the way for America’s future.”
Other highlights of the Mayors’ Challenge are that as many as 35 “champion cities” will win up to $100,000 each to test and refine their ideas with five winners selected on the strength of their ideas, likelihood of a successful outcome as well the potential for them to be replicated across other cities.
One city will receive the $5m grand prize while four others will receive $1m implementation awards.
“American mayors stand on the front lines of our country’s most pressing issues, from tackling climate change to reducing gun violence,” added Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans and incoming president of the US Conference of Mayors.
“More than ever, innovation and progress are happening at the city level, and [we are] thrilled to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies to ensure that the voices of urban leaders are elevated at the national level.”
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