One American city can win big with a bold idea to improve city life. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a competition to reward innovative ideas that solve major challenges faced by cities. The Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge will select five winners based on brave, creative ideas that demonstrate the greatest potential for local and national impact in urban areas across the country. These five winners will gain funding (one grand prize of $5 million and four additional prizes of $1 million each) to be used towards implementing the ideas as well as recognition for being the most innovative cities in America.
Mayor Bloomberg remarked that “American cities, where roughly 70 percent of the population is going to live in a couple decades, are really uniquely positioned to inspire and foster innovation and creativity.” With the Mayors Challenge, teams respond to the pressing need of urban development by growing ideas that make governments more efficient, foster civic engagement, promote transparency and accountability, create solutions to social or economic problems, or improve customer service for residents or businesses. Innovation, creativity, replicability, and significance are key to developing a winning idea.
The Mayors Challenge recognizes Chicago’s 311 number as an example of an existing idea that would attract the judges’ attention. Created in 1999 by Mayor Richard Daley, 311 transformed the way city residents accessed and interacted with their government. The program has now been replicated in more than 70 cities across the country. (Read a recent CivicSource post on updates to the 311 program here.)
Applicants should keep in mind that “this challenge is all about identifying a need, solving a problem, and sharing your knowledge so that other cities and citizens can benefit from your insight.”
You can view rules and eligibility for the competition here. The application deadline is September 14, 2012.