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Mayors Challenge

Uncovering innovative solutions to today’s most pressing challenges.

CPI and the Mayors Challenge

Bloomberg Philanthropies Logo

CPI partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2018 and 2021 to design and deliver the Mayors Challenge, a city-based competition to uncover the most innovative ideas to today’s most pressing challenges. In 2021, the Challenge scaled to be a global competition.

About the Mayors Challenge

The Mayors Challenge is an ideas competition for cities to create big and bold solutions to their toughest problems. Winning cities receive $1 million and expert coaching to put their breakthrough idea into action and, ultimately, to spread their ideas to other cities around the world.

The Mayors Challenge helps city leaders build their innovation muscles and try new ways of problem-solving that put residents in the center of solutions. Key skills leaders learn include:

  • Defining a problem by starting with questions rather than answers, encouraging leaders to question assumptions, use data, and unpack complexity.

  • Co-creating ideas with residents to ensure those most impacted by a problem play a central role in designing and testing its resolution.

  • Testing, learning, and adapting (prototyping) small pieces of solutions with residents to quickly gain insights and refine the idea.

  • Pivoting with purpose when prototyping shows city leaders that they are on the wrong track with an solution approach.

Learn more



50 teams from cities across the world competed for the chance to be declared a Champion City


315 team members participated in their respective city's efforts to create, design, and implement innovative new programs to unique city challenges


Over 500 residents worldwide were engaged by their city's teams


95% of Global Mayors Challenge participants would recommend the program to their peers


98% of team members learned new skills over the course of the Global Mayors Challenge


Busy Manila Market

"With [the Mayors Challenge and] Go! Manila, we are hoping to get a more granular data as we implement life-changing public service to every Manileño. This goal is very ambitious, arduous, and laborious but doable."

Joy Dawis-Asuncion, Assistant City Administrator, City of Manila
Jan Mellebeek headshot

“The great advantage of the [Mayors Challenge] design thinking model is that you start from the perspective of the users. Often you automatically start thinking from the idea of ​​'what does the government want', but you have to think about 'what does a resident want.’”

Jan Mellebeek, Head of Local Policy Action, Leuven, Belgium
Professor Kasonde Bowa

“We have provided solutions in the past but they may stay in the research or the publications, they never really reach the community. The [Mayors Challenge] human design perspective allows you to see what the community actually thinks about this, and how we can make a solution that is sustainable.”

Professor Kasonde Bowa, Executive Dean of Medicine at the University of Lusaka