Connecting state and local government leaders
Cities will get resources and technical assistance to help low-income residents.
The Citi Foundation and Living Cities announced on Friday the selection of Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the first three cities to participate in City Accelerator, a $3 million program that will help cities support innovation and collaboration at the local government level.
The resources and technical assistance heading to the cities over the next 18 months will be focused on challenges that low-income residents face. In the case of Philadelphia, the program will help the city’s innovation team work with various city departments to boost enrollment of low-income residents in tax relief and payment assistance programs.
“One challenge has been devising ways to help vulnerable Philadelphians access benefits to which they are entitled,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said in the announcement. “Being selected for the City Accelerator program will help us create tax relief pathways for these citizens, using our existing innovation infrastructure, new tools and targeted resources.”
Read the full announcement:
New York and Washington, D.C. – The Citi Foundation and Living Cities [on Friday] announced the selection of Louisville, KY, Nashville, TN and Philadelphia, PA as the first three participants in the City Accelerator, a $3 million program to help nine cities pilot leading innovations in local government.
Over the next 18 months, city administrations in Louisville, Nashville and Philadelphia will receive a package of resources and technical assistance to help them adopt cutting-edge approaches to innovation and apply these new tools to tackle specific challenges facing low-income residents in their cities.
Louisville will employ its current innovation toolkit, alongside new approaches supported by the City Accelerator, to address issues such as enhancing its fire response system and better serving people suffering from both mental illness and substance abuse, as part of the city’s broader effort to build a comprehensive “R&D system” for civic innovation.
“Our goal with the City Accelerator Program is to build upon our many performance improvement and innovation efforts to create a world-leading and sustainable practice of innovation, on par with the R&D branches of a world-class company,” said Mayor Greg Fischer of the City of Louisville. “We want to push beyond the status quo in all things touched by city government, and empower employees and citizens alike to participate in the work of innovation. We are both energized by and grateful for the support of the Citi Foundation and Living Cities, which will aid us greatly in this broader effort.”
Nashville will engage multiple city agencies and local nonprofits to develop more integrated and innovative approaches to increase economic opportunity for its residents, including combating urban homelessness and addressing the need for safe and affordable housing.
“Both the public and private sectors in Nashville are filled with dedicated individuals who work hard every day to help more citizens share in our city’s economic success,” said Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville. “Our Office of Innovation is working to bring all of those entities to the same table, because we know separate efforts can be much more impactful when our strategies are unified and everyone is willing to consider new approaches. We are excited for the tools and support the City Accelerator will bring to Nashville to aid us in this vital work.”
Philadelphia will bring its innovation team and city departments together to test new methods to increase enrollment in City programs that provide eligible low-income residents with tax relief and payment assistance, such as engaging with city residents to innovate new solutions to reach these taxpayers or making the application process more user-friendly.
“Our Administration is committed to building a culture of innovation across City government to benefit Philadelphians. As a result, Philadelphia has built a strong infrastructure that supports our forward-thinking goal of finding creative solutions to long-standing challenges,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “One challenge has been devising ways to help vulnerable Philadelphians access benefits to which they are entitled. Being selected for the City Accelerator program will help us create tax relief pathways for these citizens, using our existing innovation infrastructure, new tools and targeted resources.”
“As cities continue to grow in both size and share of global GDP, they are faced with similar challenges that make collaboration imperative,” said Ed Skyler, Citi’s Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chairman of the Citi Foundation. “The City Accelerator is a great opportunity to work with mayors and other urban leaders by fueling the exchange of ideas and contributing to the success of cities around the country.”
“The level of interest, and the quality of the proposals we received during the first round of the City Accelerator, are a testament to the appetite and creativity of cities across the country in disrupting the status quo in local government.” said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities. “Louisville, Nashville and Philadelphia ultimately showed the strongest proposals to embed innovation in their administrations and to put their ideas into practice to address issues affecting low-income people.”
The idea that cities need to be able to innovate faster, more fully and more consistently is one of the core organizing ideas for the CityAccelerator. The cohort cities will receive support including coaching and technical assistance from leading municipal innovators, targeted implementation resources and opportunities to engage with their peers in the other cohort cities.
Nigel Jacob, co-founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics for the City of Boston and Urban Technologist-in-Residence at Living Cities, will lead the first cohort. “Cities are getting better at making incremental improvements to the way they deliver services,” said Jacob. “This is important, but it is not enough to solve our greatest challenges. Cities need to be able to find breakthrough ways of solving problems on an ongoing basis.”
Nine other cities applied for the cohort, and six: Albuquerque, Denver, and San Jose in addition to Louisville, Nashville and Philadelphia, were selected as finalists. The six finalists recorded video pitches that were posted online at Governing.com for public review, comment and rating. The strength of their proposals, the alignment of their thinking with the framework for this first cohort, and public input on the finalists’ video pitches were all considered in the final selection.
Two additional City Accelerator cohorts will launch in spring and fall of 2015.
Living Cities will release and update an implementation guide on innovation in local government that will serve as a roadmap for other cities. The Governing Institute will provide ongoing coverage of the learnings coming out of the cohort cities and related innovation efforts happening in other places in a dedicated section on Governing.com.
The City Accelerator builds on the Project on Municipal Innovation (PMI), a collaboration between Living Cities and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. PMI brings together mayoral chiefs-of-staff and policy directors from 35cities across the US to discuss challenges facing their municipalities, including inefficiency in city government and inequality. The CityAccelerator helps translate dialogue into action by giving cities seed funding to adopt many of the ideas discussed during the PMI sessions.
With a focus on municipal innovation, the City Accelerator reinforces Citi and the Citi Foundation’s commitment to help cities become more efficient and empower citizens by providing access to services that enhance livability and prosperity. For more information about how Citi is enabling progress in cities, please visit www.citiforcities.com.