Eager to help local leaders bypass Washington, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s foundation is putting up more than $17 million for a new contest that encourages the nation’s mayors to address critical issues themselves.
The new effort, to be announced publicly on Monday, comes as local leaders are increasingly concerned about the impact of the Trump administration’s policies.
Thirty five cities will ultimately win $100,000, while four more receive $1 million and one grand prize winner gets $5 million. There is no limit to the focus of the projects, but some are expected to address Bloomberg priorities such as climate change, the opioid epidemic, illegal guns and obesity.
“It’s a critical moment to support U.S. cities,” said James Anderson, a senior official at Bloomberg Philanthropies. He suggested mayors currently face challenges “from all directions,” including overbearing elected officials in state capitals and Washington.
But Bloomberg, a former Republican turned independent, is not necessarily putting his money where his mouth is.
The new contest is part of a larger $200 million initiative aimed at helping America’s cities that he plans to announce Monday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami. He is increasingly using his personal fortune to encourage policymakers to work around Washington.