UPDATED, May 21, 2018: Cities of Service announced Bologna, Italy; Santiago de Cali, Colombia; and Tulsa, OK as the winners of the inaugural Engaged Cities awards. The nonprofit updated the amount of the monetary prize; all three cities will receive $70,000 that can be used to further their engagement efforts.
Each winning city was chosen for drastically different reasons: Bologna adopted new regulations to allow residents to partner with the city for public space revitalization; Santiago de Cali created local councils to address neighborhood violence; and Tulsa created a team of city staff and citizens to analyze city data and address public problems. Michael Bloomberg, founder of parent organization Bloomberg Philanthropies, said each winning city demonstrates the "best example" of improving city services.
- Ten cities have been named as finalists in the Engaged Cities awards held by the independent nonprofit Cities of Service, which was founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
- Bologna, Italy; Boston; Fort Collins, CO; Hamm, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; Huntington, WV; Mexico City; San Jose, CA; Santiago de Cali, Colombia; and Tulsa, OK were selected from more than 100 applicants. The winner will receive a $100,000 prize while two others will receive $50,000 each.
- Cities were selected for projects that "demonstrated a clear understanding that local government works better when it is open to the ideas and talents of its citizens," according to a statement.
The 10 finalist cities have put forward varying projects for engaging with residents. For example, Huntington, WV received plaudits for its strategy to "engage citizens in creating healthier lifestyles," and Tulsa, OK was named a finalist for engaging residents on "leveraging data to inform policy." While some of these projects could be regarded as "smart," others solve more traditional problems: Mexico City is getting it citizens involved in writing a constitution, while Santiago de Cali, Colombia is engaging residents on violence reduction.
Engaging residents on innovations and new projects is crucial for cities, with many experts saying that citizens should be viewed as active partners through greater participation, transparency and educational opportunities. These projects are all making use of residents as partners and show how cities are thinking differently about problem solving.
The cash award represents further investment from Bloomberg, who continues to influence policy and has made his vision for the future clear. This follows his 2017 pledge to invest $200 million in the "American Cities Initiative," which looks to empower cities and generate innovation. In February, his charitable arm Bloomberg Philanthropies selected 35 finalists for the 2018 US Mayors Challenge, again calling for cities to come up with innovative solutions.
Bloomberg's challenge to cities is to think differently about existing problems and show "bold" leadership, using his organization’s considerable donating power to effect change through direct action.