Mayor Bloomberg Puts Personal Fortune Toward Funding Urban Innovation

Nine million dollars are at stake in the Mayors Challenge, a competition for new urban ideas hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

For years, New York City's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg has poured millions of dollars into supporting charities and nonprofits that help make his city a better place to live. Now the wealthy philanthropist is prepared to show a few other American cities some love as well. Earlier this week Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the Mayors Challenge, a competition for urban innovation that will award $5 million to one lucky city and $1 million to four others to put toward new approaches to solving urban challenges.

According to its website, the Mayors 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 and actions." Examples of the kind of ideas they're looking for include Chicago's creation of the 311 call line as a single entry point into city's customer service system. Started in 1999, the idea has since spread around the country becoming nearly as well-known as 911. The challenge's guidelines list replicability as a core feature of what the judges are looking for, as well as meaningful impact on social and economic problems and the ability to make government more efficient and accountable.

The Mayors Challenge will invite 1,300 American cities with 30,000 or more residents to participate. Competing cities will need to get their applications in by September 14. Afterwards judges will bring 20 finalists to New York City for a two-day "Ideas Camp" where they'll attend sessions with experts to make their ideas stronger.

Check out the video below for more information.


Photo via (cc) Flickr user Center for American Progress