New York and Washington, D.C. The Citi Foundation and Living Cities today announced the launch of the City Accelerator, a new $3 million program to foster innovation and promote collaboration between urban leaders to tackle some of their cities’ most pressing challenges. The City Accelerator will allow selected U.S. cities to pilot innovative efforts that generate economic opportunities for low-income populations and help municipalities run more effectively. Participating cities will also benefit from ongoing interaction with leading practitioners from around the country and share lessons learned to advance progress.
The City Accelerator builds on the Project on Municipal Innovation (PMI), a collaboration between Living Cities and Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, which brings together mayoral chiefs-of-staff and policy directors from 35 cities across the U.S. to discuss challenges facing their municipalities, including inefficiency in city government and inequality. The City Accelerator helps translate dialogue into action by giving cities seed funding to adopt many of the ideas discussed during the PMI sessions.
The Citi Foundation’s support for the City Accelerator will provide these U.S. cities with the opportunity to apply for one of three cohorts that focus on accelerating a particular type or model of innovation. The selection criteria include having a demonstrated commitment from the mayor and other key leaders and a track record of delivering results. Participants will explore areas where there is a clear model ready for implementation, which senior officials in each participating city will adapt around a chosen issue. The first round of selected cities will be announced this summer.
“At a time when cities are experiencing rapid population growth, we are proud to support urban leaders who are seeking solutions to improve services in the midst of an unprecedented shift,” said Ed Skyler, Citi’s Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chairman of the Citi Foundation. “For over 200 years, Citi has partnered with cities around the world to support their growth and progress. The City Accelerator will enhance the ability of municipal governments to implement innovative programs and services that deliver impactful results for residents.”
“Many cities today are program-rich, but focus on piecemeal approaches and workaround solutions,” said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities. “Our belief is that City Accelerator, with support from the Citi Foundation, will help foster the spread of innovation to enable more systematic solutions to address some of the core challenges facing America’s cities. We are grateful for the partnership with the Citi Foundation to enable this important work to move forward.”
Participating cities in the City Accelerator program will focus on issues with the potential to have profound benefits for residents, such as allocating additional resources to issues like health to achieve better results, or using data in a new and coordinated way across city agencies to improve educational outcomes.
“While all cities are unique, they face common challenges,” said Peter Furman, Chief of Staff for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and a PMI participant. “With City Accelerator, cities can build upon existing best practices and move faster toward implementing approaches that work.”
Local governments are critical in promoting widespread economic growth and opportunity, and they benefit from an inherent ability to quickly adapt and experiment in the face of a changing environment. From launching innovation offices and opening up access to municipal data banks, cities have begun taking steps to reinvent themselves in order to solve what were once seen as intractable challenges.
“Cities are on the front lines of today’s challenges, and we need to get better at accelerating the development of workable solutions,” said Kristine LaLonde, Nashville Co-Chief Innovation Officer. “From our city’s involvement with PMI, we have seen some smart, forward-thinking approaches to the obstacles all cities face when trying to serve their own diverse constituents. City Accelerator will enable the field to develop smarter solutions together and more quickly.”
The City Accelerator builds upon Citi’s efforts to help cities become more efficient and empower citizens by providing access to services that enhance livability and prosperity. Through Citi for Cities and other initiatives, Citi is partnering with governments, businesses, and community groups to identify and implement inventive solutions that spur job creation, drive efficiencies, and enhance quality of life. For more information about how Citi is enabling progress in cities, please visit www.citiforcities.com.
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The Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress in communities around the world and focuses on initiatives that expand financial inclusion. We collaborate with best-in-class partners to create measurable economic improvements that strengthen low-income families and communities. Through a "More than Philanthropy" approach, Citi's business resources and human capital enhance our philanthropic investments and impact. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Additional information can be found at www.livingcities.org.
The Project on Municipal Innovation
The Project on Municipal Innovation is a unique forum that enables city halls from across the country to learn about and act on integrative and transformative policy ideas. More than 35 cities have designated their chief-of-staff or policy director to participate in a highly engaged set of activity that includes online policy forums and biannual in-person meetings at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.