Bloomberg Philanthropies Launches 2016 Mayors Challenge in Latin America and the Caribbean

Global Competition Calls on City Leaders to Generate Bold Solutions to Address Urban Challenges and Improve City Life

Approximately 900 Cities Eligible to Compete for $9 Million USD in Innovation Funds

Jan 20, 2016, 07:23 ET from Bloomberg Philanthropies

NEW YORK, Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Michael R. Bloomberg today launched Bloomberg Philanthropies' 2016 Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire Latin American and Caribbean cities to develop bold new ideas that solve major problems and improve city life – and that ultimately can be shared with other cities. The competition includes a $5 million USD grand prize and four $1 million awards to four other cities that generate powerful ideas. The competition is one of the foundation's flagship programs, reaching hundreds of cities in the U.S. and Europe.  

"Cities around the world are pursuing bold policy innovations, and those in Latin America and the Caribbean are helping to lead the way. Expanding the Mayors Challenge to Latin America and the Caribbean provides new opportunities for progress on a wide range of issues that impact the lives of citizens. We're looking forward to seeing what exciting new ideas emerge from creative city leaders throughout the region," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.

Cities with 100,000 or more residents in Latin America and the Caribbean are invited to compete in this year's competition. More than 900 cities are eligible within the following countries - Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Uruguay; Suriname; and Venezuela.

All cities competing in the 2016 Mayors Challenge must submit ideas that do one or more of the following:

  • Address a major social or economic issue in the local area
  • Improve customer service for citizens or businesses
  • Create government efficiencies
  • Improve citizen engagement in local government

Winners will be selected based on their idea's vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. By design, the Mayors Challenge prompts participating cities to leverage resources, talent, and creativity from residents and from other sectors.

Key moments in the 2016 Mayors Challenge for those interested in participating include:

  • By March 15, 2016, all cities must sign up for the competition at mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org  
  • By April 15, 2016, all cities must submit their ideas
  • In late spring 2016, approximately 20 finalists will be announced
  • In July 2016, teams from the finalist cities will attend Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering where finalist cities work with experts to stretch and strengthen their ideas
  • In fall 2016, the five winning cities will be announced

Bloomberg Philanthropies will be supported by a selection committee of innovation and urban policy experts, largely from Latin America and the Caribbean, to help select the winning cities. The selection committee will be announced in the coming months.   

All Mayors Challenge winners receive robust assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners to support implementation and document lessons learned. Bloomberg Philanthropies has proudly partnered with the Centre for Public Impact (CPI) to implement this year's challenge, provide related supports to city participants, and oversee coordination with other program partners. CPI is a not-for-profit, funded by The Boston Consulting Group, and dedicated to improving the positive impact of governments.

Facts on Prior Mayors Challenge Competitions

The Mayors Challenge is designed to surface bold new solutions, enable cities to test the best of these ideas, and help those ideas that work spread. To date, 465 U.S. and European cities have participated in the competitions. Highlights include:

  • Providence Talks, the grand prize winner from the U.S. Mayors Challenge, aims to address the fact that low-income children hear millions fewer words than their peers from wealthier families by the time they reach kindergarten, negatively impacting future educational attainment. That program's pilot showed promising results in increasing the number of words heard by program participants. Providence Mayor Elorza is aggressively ramping up the program to reach thousands of children.
  • Santa Monica, a winner from the U.S. Mayors Challenge, successfully became the first city in the United States to conduct a wellbeing survey in early 2015. City officials are now using these data to align resources, programs, and policies to improve the health and wellbeing of residents. The survey will be conducted once every two years moving forward.
  • Athens, Greece, a winner from the European Mayors Challenge, has established a robust program to unleash the power of civil society to solve community problems, and to reform outdated regulations that make it difficult for citizens to contribute. Over a thousand community activities have been promoted through the program.  
  • Barcelona, the grand prize winner from the European Mayors Challenge, aims to coordinate the activities of family members, neighbors, volunteers, and professional care givers around individual at-risk seniors to reduce isolation. The city has prototyped the technological platform and collected significant end-user feedback. An expanded pilot will take place in 2016 as they move toward their ultimate goal of reaching 20,000 seniors.
  • Seven finalists from the European competition that did not receive funding are nonetheless pursuing their ideas: Amsterdam, Brno, Bologna, Bristol, Lisbon, York, and Stara Zagora.  Three of the finalists from the U.S. competition that did not receive funding implemented their ideas: Milwaukee, WI; Cincinnati, OH; and Highpoint, NC, while five other finalists continue to pursue the concepts.
  • Winners from the U.S. and European competitions have received over 300 requests for information related to replication from other cities, universities, and civil society organizations.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has a strong history of work in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. In 2015, the foundation launched its Data for Health program in Latin America which will enable countries to vastly improve their public health data collection and use. Cities in Brazil and Colombia are participating in a new phase of Bloomberg Philanthropies' Global Road Safety Initiative, and the foundation is also assisting the region through its Vibrant Oceans Initiative, the largest philanthropic commitment to internationally reform fisheries management.  

To learn more about the Mayors Challenge, visit mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg's charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat: Bloombergdotorg and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

Media Contact

Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rebecca Carriero, (212) 205-0182, rebeccac@bloomberg.org

SOURCE Bloomberg Philanthropies