Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winners of the Mayors Challenge, a foundation-sponsored competition designed to inspire cities in the U.S. to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve urban life.
Providence, the capital of and biggest city in Rhode Island, was awarded the $5 million grand prize for its cutting-edge early education initiative. The New York City-based foundation also awarded innovation prizes of $1 million each to Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Santa Monica, California. Selected according to four criteria — vision, ability to implement, potential for impact, and potential for replicability — the winning cities will use the prize money to implement or expand their innovative ideas.
In Providence, Mayor Angel Taveras will use the funds to implement Providence Talks, a new initiative to measure vocabulary exposure among children in low-income households and help parents close the vocabulary gap; in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will work with leaders in data and computer science to launch the Chicago SmartData Platform, an open-source predictive-analytics platform that aggregates information in one place to help leaders make smarter, faster decisions and prevent problems before they develop; in Houston, Mayor Annise Parker will aunch One Bin For All, an effort to forge existing technologies into a one-bin high-recovery system that recycles 75 percent of the waste generated in the city; in Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter will work to launch the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership and create a new procurement process that enables entrepreneurs and social innovators to respond to RFPs and generate solutions to the most pressing city problems; and in Santa Monica, Mayor Pam O'Connor will launch the Wellbeing Project, an effort to measure well-being and formally embed it in policy making through a sophisticated index focused on economic vitality, social relationships, health, education/care, and local environment.
Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced Houston as the winner of the Mayors Challenge Fan Favorite Selection, a competition created in partnership with the Huffington Post that encouraged Americans to learn more about the ideas and innovations of the twenty finalists and vote for their favorite.
"The Mayors Challenge is dedicated to the idea that cities are the new laboratories of democracy. If an innovative program or policy can work in one city, it can spread across the country and even across the globe," said New York City mayor and Bloomberg Philanthropies founder Michael R. Bloomberg. "Too often, great ideas don't get the support — or the funding — they need. The Mayors Challenge helps eliminate those obstacles by elevating and funding the most promising and innovative ideas. In the months ahead, we look forward to seeing these ideas implemented, take root locally, and then hopefully spread across the nation to improve the lives of all Americans."