The US Cities 'Taking Bold Steps’ to Tackle the Most Pressing Challenges

Downtown Baltimore, Maryland.

Downtown Baltimore, Maryland. iStock.com/DenisTangneyJr

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Bloomberg Philanthropies selected 50 cities worldwide, including 14 here, as Bloomberg Mayors Challenge finalists for their innovative problem-solving ideas.

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the 50 cities—including 14 in the U.S.—that will advance to the final round of its 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, a worldwide innovation competition that encourages the spread of urban cities’ most-promising ideas. Among the 50 “Champion Cities,” 15 will receive a $1 million prize each.

The U.S. has the largest number of Bloomberg Mayors Challenge finalists from any continent. They are:

  • Akron, Ohio: Taking lessons from how to train medical students to support Black entrepreneurs.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: Deploying a citywide, coordinated system to support Black-owned businesses.
  • Birmingham, Alabama: Investing in the next generation of food entrepreneurs.
  • Columbus, Ohio: Providing last-mile Wi-Fi access to underserved neighborhoods.
  • Durham, North Carolina: Building a team to help residents access untapped federal resources and support.
  • Lansing, Michigan: Launching cross-sectoral partnerships to halt learning loss in children.
  • Long Beach, California: Bringing transparency to the gig economy.
  • Louisville, Kentucky: Creating a diverse tech workforce. 
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: Bringing a trust-building lens to the delivery of public services.
  • Newark, New Jersey: Reducing crime by focusing on the city’s most persistent offenders.
  • Paterson, New Jersey: Providing proven, on-demand treatment to those struggling with opioid addiction.
  • Phoenix, Arizona: Deploying “career mobility units” to support job seekers.
  • Rochester, Minnesota: Creating a pathway for women of color into the growing, high-paying local construction industry.
  • San Jose, California: Bolstering the college-support pipeline for marginalized families.

According to the announcement, the 50 cities are from 29 nations on six continents. The cities emerged from a highly competitive applicant pool, where mayors from 631 cities in 99 countries submitted their most promising ideas for consideration. The applicants were elevated based on four criteria: vision, potential for impact, feasibility and transferability.

Bloomberg Philanthropies found that racial justice emerged as the area of highest priority for U.S. cities. At the global level, innovations focusing on improving health and reducing unemployment were most common.

The 50 finalist cities will enter a four-month testing phase to refine their ideas with technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies and its network of leading innovation experts, according to the organization. The 15 winners, which will be announced in late 2021, will receive $1 million each and robust multi-year technical assistance to implement and scale their ideas. The non-winning cities also will receive “world-class coaching and support” to improve their ideas.

“These 50 finalists are showing the world that in the face of the pandemic’s enormous challenges, cities are rising to meet them with bold, innovative, and ambitious ideas,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and former  mayor of New York City, said in a statement. “By helping these cities test their ideas over the coming months, we will have a chance to identify cutting-edge policies and programs that can allow cities to rebuild in ways that make them stronger and healthier, and more equal and more just.”

Click here for more details on the cities' proposals.

Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.

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