A Match Made in Urban Renewal Heaven: Bloomberg and Living Cities

Mike Bloomberg likes to be part of the action. And right now, some of the hottest action in developing American cities is happening through the City Accelerator project of Living Cities.

Living Cities also likes to be part of the action. And right now, one of the biggest things going on in city innovation are the Innovation Teams, or i-teams, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies that are at work in cities across the country.

It's a match made in urban renewal heaven.

Bloomberg Philanthropies will be partnering with Living Cities to do more with the i-teams. Specifically, Living Cities will conduct in-person forums, webinars, blogging events, and a social media strategies to create opportunities for i-teams to learn from each other. They will also provide a digital platform for conversation between the various teams in 17 cities across the U.S.

(We don't know the dollar amount of this partnership, or even which way the dollars are flowing, though it seems fair to assume the money is moving from Bloomberg to Living Cities. I emailed the Living Cities contact to find out, and have not received a reply.)

Through the use of data and project management techniques, i-teams are in the business of "greatly reducing the risks associated with innovation." The i-team consultants provide mayors and other city leaders with a "more reliable way to address their highest-priority problems," including complex issues such as reducing murder rates in New Orleans and impacting homelessness in Atlanta.

Living Cities is particularly focused on "dramatically improving the economic well-being of low-income people." This organization helps governments with deep data dives and in-depth analysis to drive big changes. Living Cities focuses on helping mayors and other city leaders redesign operations to overcome bureaucracy, access capital to improve outcomes, and discover new models of engagement that address problems at the systems level. 

This isn't the first time Bloomberg has partnered with Living Cities. In 2013, Bloomberg teamed up with Living Cities to invest $16.2 million to create Financial Empowerment Centers in five cities, with the goal of helping families reduce debt and increase savings through financial counseling. That initiative is seeking to help more than 30,000 people over three years.

Bloomberg and Living Cities are again partnering to make city innovation as effective as possible, and to positively impact the well-being of low-income city dwellers. "Given all the challenges cities face, local leaders need reliable, dedicated capacity to generate new ideas and bring them to life—that's what our innovation teams program is all about," said James Anderson, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies' Government Innovation programs.

Ben Hecht, executive director of Living Cities, also agrees and is "thrilled" to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies and to "support the growing network of local leaders transforming City Halls."

Through this partnership, more effort can be directed toward the problems of America's cities and more can be done to help low-income communities access government services and participate in the economy. It sounds like an alliance that could be quite fruitful, particularly in distressed communities.