Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced grants to seven cities to help boost their capacity to tackle major challenges through innovation and improve quality of life for their residents.
The third cohort of cities in the foundation's Innovation Teams program — Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, North Carolina; Be'er Sheva, Israel; and Toronto, Canada — will receive grants of up to $500,000 a year for up to three years in support of a range of efforts, from tackling entrenched poverty to recruiting and retaining public employees. The program is designed to make it easier for mayors to fund in-house innovation teams ("i-teams") and task them with investigating local challenges, design solutions linked to clear goals, and rigorously measure progress on those goals. Officials from participating cities also receive implementation support and opportunities to share lessons learned and best practices with their peers in other cities.
Since its launch in 2012, the program has supported the development of ninety innovations in seventeen different cities, including Mobile, Alabama, where leaders used Instagram to geo-locate blighted properties and document the impact to residents of more than $83 million in lost market value for properties near the blighted structures.
"Innovation Teams bring twenty-first century problem-solving skills to City Hall," said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. "The teams implement creative solutions by breaking down silos within City Halls, engaging residents to jointly understand citizen needs, and testing ideas before taking them to scale."