Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced a $24 million initiative to fund Innovation Delivery Teams that help mayors effectively design and implement solutions to pressing city challenges. The three-year initiative will fund teams, comprised of high-performing staff, in five cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans. To meet each city’s impact goals in priority areas, these teams will generate innovative solutions, develop implementation plans, and manage progress towards defined targets.
Bloomberg Philanthropies will fund the salaries of these staff members and provide a range of support for the project’s duration.
In each city, the Innovation Delivery Team will focus on top priority issues identified by City Hall, achieving results and producing value. In Atlanta, the team will implement a comprehensive 311 system to improve customer service. In Memphis and Louisville, the teams will implement new job-growth strategies. In Chicago and New Orleans, the teams will cut waiting and processing times for key city services.
The Innovation Delivery Team grants are the first made through the Mayors Project, the new government innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Mayors Project has two goals: increase innovation capacity within municipal government and disseminate effective programs and policies across cities. Additional investments will be made through the Mayors Project over the coming year.
“Mayors are uniquely positioned to tackle some of our most pressing challenges – from growing jobs to fighting climate change to keeping quality of life high,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “The Mayors Project will fuel these efforts by spreading effective programs and strategies between cities and helping mayors work together in new ways around solutions. We are excited to kick off this new initiative in partnership with these five great American cities.”
The Innovation Delivery Team model draws from successful approaches that have been utilized worldwide. In New York City, for example, Mayor Bloomberg established teams to develop and implement bold anti-poverty, sustainability, and efficiency agendas. Similarly, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair formed the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit to achieve impact in transportation, education, health, and criminal justice. In Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit has documented critical gains in advancing that nation’s government and economic transformation plans.
The five cities selected are all large American cities with strong executive forms of municipal government. Most of the mayors are in the first 18 months of their first terms in office, giving the Innovation Delivery Teams sufficient time to achieve impact under the current administration. Team leaders shall report directly to the mayor and oversee a team of five to ten members, depending on city size and scope. Given this variation, the size of the grants awarded to each city will vary from $1.4 to 2 million per year.
"I am deeply honored that Bloomberg Philanthropies has chosen the City of Atlanta to receive this grant," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. "I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership in supporting innovation-based strategies to solve the most challenging problems facing America's cities. With this investment, we will be able to modernize and improve our existing customer service model, initiate a 311 strategy, and reduce homelessness and panhandling in Atlanta. This grant will help our city launch these vital initiatives and will have a lasting impact on the quality of life for all Atlanta residents."
“Bloomberg Philanthropies’ generous grant will create a top-notch team in the Mayor’s Office to help us deliver better services to taxpayers for less,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I’m committed to ensuring Chicago continues as a world-class hub of innovation, technology and business – and we must start by making City government more effective. The Innovation Delivery Team will get to work immediately on finding new, creative solutions for two priority issues – reducing the time Chicagoans spend in line to start a new business, get a permit or obtain a new license, and creating Energy Efficiency Target Zones throughout Chicago to significantly reduce energy use.”
“My goal as mayor is to create an entrepreneurial culture in Louisville that focuses on innovation and breakthrough ideas,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. “This grant helps our city make a giant leap toward that goal.”
“Memphis is thrilled to be included in this exciting project, and we are honored by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ generous investment,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “Our nation’s difficult economic climate means America’s cities must do more with fewer resources. We have to be more creative than ever when it comes to serving our citizens, keeping them safe, and helping them prosper. Fortunately, America is now in the midst of a revolutionary period in social innovation. Thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Delivery Team grant, Memphis can take part in accelerating the research, the ideas, and ultimately, the solutions that will strengthen our nation moving forward.”
“I am honored that New Orleans continues to be recognized as a hub for innovation and change," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “I look forward to working with Bloomberg Philanthropies and my colleagues in the other selected cities to implement this powerful new approach. In New Orleans, the Innovation Delivery Team will help us with two of our most important priorities, reducing violent crime and improving customer service, delivering a better quality of life for our residents.”
Over the past nine months, Bloomberg Philanthropies surveyed government officials and a range of philanthropic, academic, and private and nonprofit organizations, to inform its approach to government innovation. This included convening 14 mayors of major American cities for a day of strategizing and idea generation in March. Throughout these conversations, mayors and other stakeholders have identified both a heightened need for municipal innovation – demand for services is up and pressure on municipal budgets is severe – and a set of common barriers local leaders consistently face. These barriers include siloed bureaucracies, a lack of risk capital, inflexible regulations, and challenges associated with successfully implementing programs that have been proven elsewhere. The Mayors Project’s dual focus on increasing innovation capacity within municipal government and disseminating effective programs and policies across cities aims to address these challenges.
Throughout these efforts, Bloomberg Philanthropies will identify groups of cities interested in working on particular issues. Peer-to-peer learning networks that accelerate progress and elevate best practices will be established, and lessons learned will be shared broadly with other cities, academics, and grantmakers.
Partnership with NYU Wagner to Document and Share Best Practices
Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced a new partnership with New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. The team at NYU Wagner will identify key learnings across cities as they develop and implement Innovation Delivery Teams and document and translate those learnings into resources other cities can use.
“NYU Wagner is proud of its work on innovation and leadership and we are excited to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies in its new effort,” said Dean Ellen Schall. “We look forward to helping capture and synthesize key lessons across these initiatives in order to both build the knowledge base and support municipal innovation nationwide.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies focuses on the arts, education, the environment, government innovation, and public health.