2016 Mayors Challenge Entries in Latin America and the Caribbean Reveal a Focus on Addressing Social Inclusion, Sustainability, and Economic Growth — with a Strong Emphasis on Engaging Citizens in These Efforts


290 Cities Submit Ideas to Solve Pressing Urban Challenges

Selection Process Now Underway to Determine the 20 Finalists who will go on to compete for $9 Million USD in Innovation Funds

NEW YORK, May 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that 290 cities across Latin America and the Caribbean have submitted ideas to solve major challenges and improve city life for the 2016 Mayors Challenge. The ideas offer insight into the needs of communities and priorities of local leaders in the region.

Seven in ten ideas aim to address a social or economic challenge, while the remaining 30% focus on improving government effectiveness and efficiency.

  • 71% of cities generated ideas to address major social or economic challenges such as:
    • Social inclusion for vulnerable populations (23%)
    • Sustainability (20%)
    • Economic growth (13%)
    • Education (9%)
    • Public health (8%)
  • 29% of city ideas focus on improving the overall effectiveness and efficiency of government

Applicants for the 2016 Mayors Challenge proposed innovative solutions to address a wide range of urban challenges. A series of themes emerged in the ideas, including:

  • Leveraging technology and citizen engagement to improve government performance
  • An emphasis on public awareness initiatives, citizen participation and digital solutions to prepare for and address natural disasters
  • An interest in entrepreneurship and digital learning to improve education
  • Promoting the inclusion of vulnerable populations through job creation, better use of public spaces and technology
  • Improving public health through wide-ranging citizen engagement strategies

“Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean are some of the most innovative in the world, and they are proving it with their entries in our latest Mayors Challenge. The hundreds of proposals present exciting new ways to tackle problems across the region, and they have the potential to have a big impact on the lives of millions of people,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.

Additionally, a survey taken of participating cities showed significant city hall interest in innovation, but a lack of resources needed to experiment.

  • More than half of participating cities report regularly borrowing ideas from cities in the region or even from around the globe when faced with a tough problem.
  • Three out of 5 cities said they usually or always crowdsource ideas from citizens when they are faced with a tough problem.
  • Just 1 out of 5 participating cities report usually having access to public or private funding to test new ideas.

The 290 Mayors Challenge applicants represent over 172 million citizens in 19 countries across the region. Participating cities span the entire region with 71% from South America, 20% from Mexico and 9% from Central America and the Caribbean.  Seventeen capital cities in the region submitted ideas to the competition – from Santiago to Brasilia to Mexico City to Kingston. With applications from 80 Brazilian cities and 59 Mexican cities, Brazil and Mexico had the largest number of cities that submitted applications.

“This is a region of the world with a rich history of public sector innovation. The ideas coming from the Mayors Challenge build on that legacy. We see a stronger focus in this year’s ideas on citizen engagement, which is both a trend in governments worldwide as well as an area in which Latin American cities have been clear leaders,” said James Anderson, the head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation program.

The current applicants emerged from more than 900 Latin American and Caribbean cities who were invited by the Mayors Challenge in January 2016 to compete. Cities had until April 15, 2016 to generate and submit their innovative ideas to improve city government and city life. Modeled on successful competitions in the United States and Europe, the 2016 Mayors Challenge will award $5 million USD grand prize and four $1 million awards to four other cities that generate the most powerful and transferable ideas.

To learn more about the Mayors Challenge, visit www.mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram. Bloomberg Philanthropies has proudly partnered with the Centre for Public Impact (CPI) to implement this year’s challenge, provide related supports to city participants, and oversee coordination with other program partners. CPI is a not-for-profit, funded by The Boston Consulting Group, and dedicated to improving the positive impact of governments.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars.  For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

Media Contact
Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rebecca Carriero, (212) 205-0182, [email protected]