Government Innovation

Improving the Way City Government Works

Cities are drivers of progress and innovation, and hold solutions to many of the world’s most pressing issues. That is why cities are at the center of so much of what Bloomberg Philanthropies does. Bloomberg Philanthropies convenes mayors at global events and runs innovation competitions. With expertise built during Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as New York City’s mayor, Bloomberg Philanthropies helps cities use data to improve city services. And to promote experimentation, Bloomberg Philanthropies funds dedicated innovation teams to work directly for mayors in city halls around the world. Through its philanthropic consultancy, Bloomberg Associates, in-depth advice is provided to mayors on issues ranging from marketing to municipal integrity. By supporting cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies is able to capitalize on the unique and essential role mayors and city leaders play in leading global progress.

Using data sounds great until you start to see that what you’re doing doesn’t work, that what you’re paying for isn’t making a difference. But of course that’s where the real value comes in. Thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’re making headway on that front.
Mayor Tony Yarber
City of Jackson, Mississippi

The Mayors Challenge

Using Competitions to Create Opportunities for Cities to Boldly Experiment

Vincles BCN, a digital platform to coordinate senior care in Barcelona, Spain, was the Mayors Challenge Europe Grand Prize Winner

Surfacing new, replicable, and bold solutions to urban challenges

In the United States and Europe, the Mayors Challenge offered city leaders powerful incentives that encouraged them to develop creative new approaches to their cities’ most pressing problems. With our assistance, the winning cities have since been working to bring their ideas to life—testing and adapting them along the way.

  • A program in Providence, Rhode Island, is helping increase the number of words heard by children in low-income households before they enter kindergarten.
  • Santa Monica, California, developed and published a first-of-its-kind index of residents’ well-being, which is now informing policy with replication potential and interest from around the globe.
  • Barcelona, Spain, began piloting a platform that connects friends, family, professional caregivers and volunteers to engage and empower at-risk elderly residents.

Building on these successes, we’re thrilled to bring the Mayors Challenge to cities in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016—a region experiencing record urban growth and whose citizens are demanding more responsive, transparent, and effective public services.

Participants in Providence Talks, the U.S. Mayors Challenge winner, work to close the reading gap

The Smart Cities Challenge

Partnering to Improve Quality of Life in India's Cities

Mike Bloomberg in New Delhi, India to discuss the Smart Cities Challenge

Helping the Government of India use innovation and competition to improve the way it allocates billions in urban development funds

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, he pledged that billions would be spent to help cities undertake ambitious transformations that improve quality of life and expand urban opportunity. He invited Bloomberg Philanthropies to help design and execute India’s first-ever competition to distribute national urban development funding—what would become the Smart Cities Challenge.

  • Bloomberg Philanthropies helped government officials devise the competition guidelines and then developed a robust program of support for chronically under-resourced Indian municipal officials.
  • The effort supported the government’s commitment to running a transparent, merit-based grant-making process, breaking significantly with past practice.
  • The Government of India is now exploring other ways competitive models can be used to spur innovation, local buy-in, and better results for India’s rapidly growing population.

What Works Cities

Helping Cities Use Data and Evidence to Improve People's Lives

Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver, Colorado, a What Works City

Helping cities use data more effectively

Our What Works Cities program is helping mayors enhance their use of data and evidence to engage residents; improve services and government efficiency; and strengthen communities. At the same time, the program is creating a standard for what data-driven decision-making in the public sector looks like and, importantly, what it can achieve for residents. Twenty seven cities were admitted to the What Works Cities program in 2015. The program will reach 100 cities by the end of 2018. Through technical support and peer-to-peer learning, Bloomberg Philanthropies is helping city managers better address issues like homelessness, job growth, and public safety.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas, Nevada, a What Works Cities participant

100 cities

in What Works Cities program by the end of 2018