In a release today, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Lafayette as one of the 35 Champion Cities finalists in its 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge. Lafayette was among a competitive pool of more than 320 applicants and now advances in the nationwide challenge to compete alongside other Champion Cities including Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Charleston, SC, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, Oklahoma City, OK, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, Pittsburgh, PA and Washington, D.C. In its fourth iteration, the Mayors Challenge calls upon cities to identify an urgent challenge in their community and then develop an innovative plan to tackle the issue.
In the finalist round, Lafayette will participate in the six-month “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase of the competition. Each Champion City has access to Bloomberg Philanthropies grant funding of up to $100,000 as well as personalized support from innovation experts in this phase. A local team of subject-matter experts and stakeholders assembled by Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux will work to refine the idea, create and test a prototype, build support for the innovation, and ultimately submit a final application in August 2018. In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.
"We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people’s lives. The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.
The 35 Champion Cities performed the best against four key criteria - vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. A prestigious selection committee Co-Chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns and comprising distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives and social innovation leaders assessed the applications.
With many local residents still recovering from historic flooding in August of 2016, LCG signed on early to the Mayors Challenge in hopes of addressing drainage issues. Then late last summer, local elected officials and stakeholders, scientists and hydrology experts, and LCG representatives completed a one-day workshop facilitated by a Bloomberg Philanthropies representative to strengthen the initial application.
“Our application focused on a very specific, action-oriented and innovative idea to engage the community and work as partners to address storm water management and drainage. Our goal is to take what we’ve learned about managing storm water and package it into a tool that can be used to address flooding in any community, not just Lafayette,” said Robideaux.
The Mayors Challenge returns to the U.S. as the first investment in the American Cities Initiative, a $200 million suite of new and expanded programs that will empower cities to generate innovation and advance policies that move the nation forward. This year’s challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). In 2013, LCG participated in the Mayors Challenge and advanced as a finalist with a civic engagement-themed application. For more information, visit mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.