14 cities get Bloomberg 'innovation team' grants

AP News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2014 9:06 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Fourteen cities ranging from Long Beach, California, to Jerusalem are getting up to $3 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation to create "innovation teams" to jump-start new approaches to poverty, public safety, job growth and other issues, the foundation announced Monday.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies grants range from $400,000 to $1 million annually for three years, expanding and internationalizing awards to five U.S. cities in 2011. The teams are styled as in-house innovation consultants who work on a series of mayoral priorities.

"Successful innovation depends as much on the ability to generate ideas as it does the capacity to execute them — and i-teams help cities do both," the former mayor said in a statement.

The 12 U.S. cities were chosen from over 30 applicants with at least 100,000 residents and mayors with at least two years left in office. Winners range in size from Centennial, Colorado, with about 106,000 residents, to Los Angeles, with nearly 3.9 million

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel, were invited to apply after expressing interest, said Jim Anderson, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies' government-innovation programs.

The two-to-eight-person teams usually include current staffers and outside hires by the mayor. In an era of tight public resources, teams help analyze pressing problems, generate new solutions and develop ways to implement them and measure results.

"They don't replace (existing staffers') work — they unlock their innovation potential," Anderson said.

The 2011 grants helped Atlanta get 1,022 chronically homeless people into permanent housing and helped New Orleans reduce its murder rate by about 20 percent in less than two years, their mayors said, among other winning cities' accomplishments.

All the 2011 winners decided to keep the teams going after the grants ended, Anderson said.

The new cities selected were: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boston, Massachusetts; Centennial, Colorado; Jersey City, New Jersey; Long Beach, California; Los Angeles, California; Mobile, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Peoria, Illinois; Rochester, New York; Seattle, Washington; Syracuse, New York; Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.