has announced a three-year, $45 million initiative to boost the capacity of city governments to use innovation to tackle major challenges and improve urban life.
To that end, the foundation has invited more than eighty cities with at least a hundred thousand residents and a mayor with at least two years left in office to apply for Innovation Delivery grants. Cities selected to receive grants will receive between $250,000 and $1 million a year for three years to implement the Innovation Delivery model, an approach to generating and implementing new ideas that has been tested and refined over the last three years in Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans. Grants awarded through the initiative will be announced in the fall, and by the spring of 2015 so-called Innovation Delivery Teams will begin using best-in-class idea generation techniques in combination with a structured, data-driven approach to deliver results for their communities.
Operating like in-house consultancies, Innovation Delivery Teams helped New Orleans reduce the number of murders in the city by 19 percent in 2013, and worked with Memphis officials to reduce the retail vacancy rate along key commercial corridors by 30 percent. Elsewhere, Louisville was able to redirect 26 percent of "low-severity" 911 calls from emergency rooms to a doctor's office or immediate care center; Chicago cut the licensing time for new restaurants by 33 percent; and Atlanta placed 1,022 chronically homeless individuals into permanent housing.
"Mayors everywhere are focused on innovation — and, increasingly, on the tools and approaches they need to make it the norm rather than the exception in city halls," said former New York City mayor and Bloomberg Philanthropies founder Michael R. Bloomberg. "Mayors have produced clear and compelling results with Innovation Delivery Teams over the past few years — and by significantly expanding our support for this proven model, we will be able to help more city officials develop and implement new ideas."