Pittsburgh Named Finalist in Bloomberg Philanthropies' 2018 Mayors Challenge

Pittsburgh is among 35 Champion Cities That Will Embark on 6-month Testing Phase in Competition for Grand Prize

City generated an idea to help reduce its residential energy burden and transition to renewable energy sources.

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 21, 2018) Pittsburgh is one of 35 Champion Cities selected today as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face.

These 35 urban innovations rose to the top of a competitive pool of more than 320 applications. The Champion Cities will now begin a 6-month testing phase where they will conduct public prototypes of their ideas with grant funding of up to $100,000 per city, a new addition to the Competition this year. The Mayors Challenge returns to the U.S. as the first investment in the American Cities Initiative, a $200 million suite of new and expanded programs that will empower cities to generate innovation and advance policy that moves the nation forward.

Pittsburgh now advances to the six-month “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase of the competition. Cities will refine their ideas during this process with up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for their urban innovations and submit a new application in August 2018. In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.

"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. The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.

The 35 Champion Cities performed the best against four key criteria - vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. A prestigious selection committee Co-Chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns and comprising distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives and social innovation leaders assessed the applications.

An aging and inefficient housing stock has made Pittsburgh the sixth worst in the country for residential energy burden; resulting in its residents spending more than double the national average on utility bills. The city of Pittsburgh is proposing a solution that could increase demand for retrofitting residential properties by reducing costs through group purchasing of materials and the facilitation of DIY product installation. Pittsburgh is one of 35 U.S. cities competing for the grand prize; others include Boston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

“Urban innovation is the key to pioneering solutions for real-world problems that affect us on a global scale,” Mayor William Peduto said. “That's why I am thrilled to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies, a champion in the urban innovation space, to help Pittsburgh reach its goal of 100% renewable energy sources by 2035, which has been challenging living in a fossil-fuel rich region like Pennsylvania. This funding gives us an opportunity to explore a new idea that not only empowers citizens to meaningfully engage with the energy consumption conversation, but, also invites them to take action.”

The 2018 Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). For more information, visit and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

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