January 19, 2022

Bloomberg Philanthropies Program Addressing Contemporary Challenges in Cities


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Andrea Coleman co-leads the Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation grant programs

The City of Kigali was this week announced among 15 cities that won $1 million and multi-year technical support in the 5th edition of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Mayors Challenge.

The winning cities were recognized for designing the boldest and most ambitious urban innovations to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The award-winning ideas aim to address current contemporary issues.

Since its launch in 2013, the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge has empowered city leaders from around the world to tackle their most pressing concerns.

Mayors and their teams have learned and leveraged innovation tools and strategies to take on issues of homelessness, public health, climate change, equity, and much more

The Chronicles caught up with the Andrea Coleman, who co-leads the Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation grant programs to tell us more about this program which makes more sense especially in driving recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the interview details: 

The Chronicles Since 2013, how much has been invested in grants for the Mayors Challenge and what is your evaluation of how the winning teams have used these grants over the years?

Andrea Coleman: Replication is one of the ways we measure the success of our Mayors Challenge projects.

Thirty-eight ideas have won the Mayors Challenge since its launch in 2013 and often yield such powerful results that other cities replicate them.

This includes Providence Talks (2013, Providence, Rhode Island, USA), a project that aims to increase the number of words children from low-income families hear each day in order to support healthy brain development and prepare them for school, that is currently being implemented in five additional U.S. cities;

Biochar (2014, Stockholm, Sweden), a  project to convert plant waste into biochar to encourage plant growth, which will be replicated in 16 additional European cities; and Visor Urbano (2016, Guadalajara, Mexico), a program that decreases corruption by creating transparency in the permitting process for new businesses and buildings, that will be replicated by 61 additional cities in Latin America.

What has been the impact of this program on the African continent? Tell us about some success stories of the Mayors Challenge in Africa and how the projects have fared, compared to projects implemented in other regions?

The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge is the first iteration of the competition to go worldwide. The three African winners of this year’s competition are the first-ever and we are excited to see their success.

Why the Kigali proposal was selected as one of the winning city proposals?

Kigali was chosen from among 631 applications to the challenge based on four key criteria: The winners were selected based on four criteria: Vision; Potential for impact; Feasibility; and Transferability. The city’s vision to create a smart waste system in order to improve sanitation and water quality is an important set of challenges that cities around the world face. Kigali will become a model for how cities can respond to these challenges to create a better quality of life for residents

How does Bloomberg Philanthropies collaborate with the cities to ensure the projects are successfully implemented?

We will work closely with the city over the next three years to support their implementation plan, with funding of $1M USD for implementation and ongoing technical assistance.

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