Three Colorado cities named Bloomberg Mayors Challenge finalists

BOULDER and FORT COLLINS — Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins are three of 35 Champion Cities recognized by the Bloomberg 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide challenge encouraging city leaders to find innovative solutions to the toughest challenges cities face.

More than 320 applied, but 35 cities were selected and will now have a six-month testing period to conduct public prototypes of their ideas with up to $100,000 in funding per city. The 35 winners scored well based on four criteria: vision, the potential for impact, implementation plan and potential to spread to other cities.

“We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people’s lives,” Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City, said in a prepared statement. “The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective.”

Boulder’s proposal was to unlock access to low carbon transport by conducting multiple experiments — including ridesharing, subsidies and an electric car loan program — to find the most effective way to improve the mobility of low-income residents. Boulder identified that it has a problem with more than half of low- and middle-income residents relying on fossil-fuel, single-occupancy vehicles because more efficient and environmentally-friendly solutions can be cost-prohibitive.

Denver’s proposal is to improve air quality by using cutting-edge air pollution sensor technology to create a city-wide air quality monitoring program at public school buildings to make more informed policy decisions. Denver families spend an average $3,100 a year on asthma-related medical costs.

Fort Collins’ proposal is to make rental housing more efficient by aligning incentives to spark the renovation of rental housing for low- and middle-income residents to make it more efficient and reduce economic disparities. Nearly 50,000 Fort Collins households are energy-inefficient.

Cheyenne, Wyo., was also recognized for its proposal to catalyze the city core’s revitalization by matching owners of underutilized buildings with entrepreneurs.

In March, teams from each city will go to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Ideas Camp in New York to get coaching and feedback on how to strengthen their ideas.

After refining their ideas during this process, cities will submit new applications in August. In October, five winners will be selected, with four receiving $1 million and one receiving $5 million.