Yesterday Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that South Bend is one of 35 Champion Cities selected today as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face. South Bend was selected from a competitive pool of more than 320 applications.
South Bend now advances to the six-month “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase of the competition. Champion Cities will refine their ideas during this process with up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for their urban innovations and submit a new 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.
South Bend’s proposal centered around the lack of reliable, affordable transportation for workers. At least 35 percent of low-income workers in South Bend point to the lack of reliable transportation as the primary barrier to finding and maintaining employment. In response to this issue, the City proposes a new, data-driven collaboration between the City, employers, and ride-sharing companies to give workers consistent transportation access.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Bloomberg Philanthropies on this project,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “This is a vote of confidence in our status as a ‘Beta City’ for new ideas, and a chance to address an important issue in our community. Because our size and positioning allows us to quickly adapt, we are on the forefront of urban innovation.”
“Our idea will help residents adapt to a changing job market,” said Director of Civic Innovation Brian Donoghue. “As jobs get to be more on-demand, employers and employees experience new challenges. This collaboration will unlock wins for employers, employees, and the community as a whole.”
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.