Boston, LA among cities to receive innovation grants

Bloomberg Philanthropies chose 12 cities to receive funding to develop programs that help address urban challenges.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, a nonprofit established by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has selected 12 cities to participate in its innovation program that helps local governments use data, open innovation, and strong project and performance management to help mayors address urban challenges.

Called the Innovation Teams program, the $45 million effort will allow mayors to hire and fund “i-teams” for up to three years. These teams function as in-house innovation consultants, moving from one mayoral priority to the next.

“The fact is there are very few tools or reliable approaches available to mayors who want to innovate more often, more effectively, and with a better return on that investment for residents,” said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs for Bloomberg Philanthropies, in a statement. “The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ i-teams program helps City Halls get better at innovation, which is vital given the increasing constraints under which so many of our mayors work today.”

The cities selected are: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boston; Centennial, Colorado; Jersey City, New Jersey; Long Beach, California; Los Angeles; Mobile, Alabama; Minneapolis; Peoria, Illinois; Rochester, New York; Seattle; and Syracuse, New York.


This is the second round of i-teams grants made as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation portfolio, which focuses on promoting public sector innovation.

The first round of grants were made to Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; and New Orleans. Successes include reducing retail vacancies in Memphis, minimizing unnecessary ambulance trips to the emergency room in Louisville, cutting licensing time for new restaurants in Chicago, reducing homelessness in Atlanta and reducing the murder rate in New Orleans.

“Chicago’s small business climate has never been stronger, and our Innovation Team is a major reason for the progress we’ve made,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in the release. “The Team has transformed the way we solve problems and delivered impressive results. Given their success on small business, we’ve now deployed the Team to tackle some of our most pressing social challenges, like youth violence and delivery of public benefits. I look forward to sharing our experience with new mayors joining the i-teams program.”

More than 90 American cities were invited to apply; eligible cities had at least 100,000 residents and mayors with at least two years left in office. Cities will receive from $400,000 to $1 million annually for up to three years.

In addition to the grants, cities receive robust implementation support and opportunities to exchange lessons learned and best practices with peers in other cities. Newly formed i-teams will hit the ground running in each city no later than spring 2015.


Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced that two non-U.S. cities will receive innovation team grants: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel. Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem will use his i-team to focus on poverty and economic development, while Mayor Ron Huldai of Tel Aviv will focus on cost of living and illegal immigration.

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