Michael Bloomberg Announces 3-Year, $200 Million American Cities Initiative

The philanthropist announced the initiative at the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Annual Meeting, saying cities now play a vital role in an era of "Washington impotence."

by / June 26, 2017
(Shutterstock; Illustration by Michele Melcher)

Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and former mayor of New York City, has announced the American Cities Initiative, a $200-million investment to be made over the next three years to help city governments to innovate and better serve residents with tech.

Bloomberg, who made the announcement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Annual Meeting in Miami, connected this effort to a rising host of challenges faced by America’s cities, pointing to technological acceleration, a recent distancing from urban issues by the federal government, and the ongoing effects of climate change. As part of this initiative, $17.5 million in grants and technical assistance will go to participating cities, innovation experts will be deployed to assist the first 300 participating cities with one-day city hall training sessions, and much more.

“We are in the middle of a political era defined by Washington impotence, but as Washington has grown more dysfunctional, cities have begun to play a vital role in determining our nation’s reputation as a global superpower," Bloomberg said in a statement. "The American Cities Initiative will incentivize and support the innovative efforts of those cities paving the way for America's future.”

The first related investment will be a program called Mayors Challenge, which calls for participation from every city with more than 30,000 residents, aspiring to help governmental leadership tackle the most significant problems they face. This 2017 Mayors Challenge builds on previous efforts baring the same name that took place in the U.S. in 2013, Europe in 2014, and Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016.

Interested cities are encouraged to visit www.mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has been instrumental in advancing tech and open data efforts in local governments in recent years, largely through its What Works Cities program, an initiative that pairs government agencies and mayors’ offices with university and nonprofit partners, also in the service of innovation.