Mayors Challenge sets twin goals of competition and collaboration for US cities with bold ideas

Cities are increasingly where the most innovative solutions to society’s challenges get their start. C40 Chair New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg aims to accelerate this trend by launching a new philanthropic effort to spur cities onwards in trying untested ideas of great promise. Yesterday, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the Mayors Challenge, which will award $9 million to five US cities that come up with bold ideas for solving major problems and improving quality of life. 

Specifically, cities’ proposals must do at least one of the following:

  • address a major social or economic issue; 
  • improve the customer service experience for citizens or businesses; 
  • increase government efficiency;
  • enhance accountability, transparency, and public engagement.

The Mayors Challenge is part of Bloomberg Philanthropies' overall Government Innovation efforts and corollary to its $24 million Mayors Project, which places innovation teams in select US cities to work directly with local mayors on a range of initiatives from small-business growth to crime reduction. 

Importantly, the Mayors Challenge is not just about stirring up healthy competition between cities; collaboration and knowledge-sharing is emphasized equally. In an op-ed piece published by The Huffington Post, Mayor Bloomberg said:

“Historically, cities have seen each other as competitors in a zero-sum game, with neighbors pitted against each other in a battle to attract residents and businesses. But more and more, a new generation of mayors is recognizing the value of working together and the necessity of borrowing ideas from one another.”

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which Mayor Bloomberg chairs and supports philanthropically, is a leading example of such cooperation and collaboration among cities -- on a global scale. A strong network of 59 cities committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, C40 brings cities together in sub-networks to address a range of targeted issues.

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