Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is helping cities across the country sidestep Washington by way of a $17 million contest that awards grants to cities that present the most impressive policy ideas.
The grand prize winner will receive $5 million, followed by four cities winning $1 million and 35 cities taking $100,000.
The philanthropic contest is part of the $200 million American Cities Initiative, a program Bloomberg announced today as he spoke to the United States Conference of Mayors in Miami Beach.
There are no restrictions when it comes to the theme of the proposals, but we can expect many to focus on issues like climate change, gun control, obesity, the opioid epidemic, public health, and immigration.
Winner’s of Bloomberg’s past contests include:
• A program to fight childhood obesity in Chile
• A project to fight climate change in Sweden
• An initiative to improve public safety in Philadelphia
The city of Providence, Rhode Island won Bloomberg’s 2013 contest with a program that helped improve early childhood development in poor households. Providence plans to enter this year’s contest, says city mayor Jorge Elorza. “There’s a big change in anxiety level. The fate of our communities is on us.”
Bloomberg’s offer comes as big city mayors across the country (most of them Democrats) grow increasingly worried about the impact of President Trump’s policies, and winning the contest would give them an opportunity to use their local power to check conservative mandates coming from Washington.
Bloomberg seriously considered running for president in 2016, and some believe the contest is a preview for 2020. Considering his age (75), I find this unlikely.
Bloomberg is a Republican-turned-Independent who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Despite her loss, he shows a begrudging respect for President Trump:
“In the end, we’re a democracy. The public has spoken whether you like the results or not…he was elected,” said Bloomberg during a recent interview with ABC. He urges Americans to “get behind” Trump and to look forward to the next election rather than seek a revolution.
Michael Bloomberg is the 10th richest person in the world and the co-author of Climate of Hope.
Editor’s note: This is the first is a series of article labeled “puppetmasters” about people with a whole lot of money, but with varied (and not necessarily correct) political ideas.