Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the five winners of the inaugural Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.
Mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more were eligible to compete, and 305 cities from 45 states did send in their ideas to compete in this inaugural competition.
The selection of the winners was based on four criteria – vision, ability to implement, potential for impact, and potential for replicability.
Providence, Rhode Island was presented the Mayors Challenge Grand Prize for Innovation and a $5 million implementation award for its idea of improving the vocabularies of preschool-age children throughout the City by measuring and rapidly increasing the number of words spoken in their households.
“Providence has identified a new model of early childhood education that is direct, simple and fundamentally revolutionary,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City. “Mayor Taveras’s idea combines proven technology with a revolutionary approach, and Bloomberg Philanthropies is proud to help this grand prize-winning idea take root locally and spread across the nation.”
The other four winners are Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Santa Monica, all of which will receive $1 million each to support implementation.
Chicago, Illinois got the award for its SmartData open-source, predictive analytics platform. The City claims this platform will fundamentally change the way cities use data to improve services. Once developed, this tool will be open-sourced and available for any city to adopt.
“Here in Chicago, we see opportunity in complexity and we are thrilled to be recognized as a winner in the Mayors Challenge. Today there are millions of pieces of data at our fingertips and the key to a smarter city is to use that data to make better decisions for our residents,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Philadelphia, PA got the award for Social Enterprise Partnership – a new procurement process that enables entrepreneurs and social innovators to respond to RFPs and help generate solutions to the most pressing city problems.
Santa Monica, CA got the award for The Wellbeing Project, which makes it the first city in the nation to measure wellbeing and formally embed it in policy-making – via a sophisticated index focused on economic vitality, social relationships, health, education/care, and local environment.
Houston, TX got the award for One Bin For All – an innovative public-private partnership to combine existing technologies to achieve the ultimate goal in waste management – a one-bin, high-recovery system that will aim to recycle 75 percent of all waste.
Houston also won the “Mayors Challenge Fan Favorite Selection,” a competition launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Huffington Post, wherein more than 58,000 people voted for their favorite projects out of the 20 Mayors Challenge finalists.
As the fan favorite winner, Houston will additionally receive a $50,000 in-kind grant from IBM to support the implementation of its One Bin For All idea as well as featured coverage and promotion from the Huffington Post. Milwaukee, Wisconsin was a close second in the fan favorite competition.