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July 24, 2014, 4:42 am

City is grant finalist for public-private initiative

Mayor Michael Nutter announced Philadelphia has been selected as a finalist for the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition created to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that address major challenges and improve city life – and that ultimately can be shared with other cities across the nation.

Philadelphia joined the “Elite 20” based on its innovative idea that re-imagines how cities’ can tackle urban challenges using entrepreneurial solutions in order to achieve meaningful change.

Called the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership (PSEP), this initiative changes how city government interacts with the private sector by engaging entrepreneurs in framing social challenges and seeking innovative solutions.

The concept provides a new, sustainable model for urban problem solving with city government as an active partner, providing data and feedback throughout the process. PSEP will be run in collaboration with GoodCompany Group, the leading social enterprise incubator in Philadelphia.

Following a call for ideas, the Mayor’s Office of Grants led a rigorous process to narrow down the 80 solicited ideas.

The process of winnowing was carried out by a panel of innovation experts who short-listed and shaped the ideas for the Mayor’s final decision.

Philadelphia will now compete with 19 other cities across the country for the $5 million grand prize and one of four additional prizes of $1 million each.

“I am thrilled that Philadelphia has been selected as a finalist for the Mayors Challenge,” Nutter said. “Our goal is to solve major urban issues by taking a different approach than before. In Philadelphia, we recognize the new ways to engage with citizens and welcome the innovative solutions that they may have for some of the most daunting challenges we face.”

A team from Philadelphia will attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering in New York City in November during which city teams will work collaboratively with each other and experts to further refine their ideas.

After the Camp, the Philadelphia team will have access to additional technical support to prepare its ideas for final submission. Winners will be announced in spring 2013, with a total of $9 million going to five cities to jumpstart implementation of their ideas.

“Congratulation to Mayor Nutter and the City of Philadelphia for becoming a Mayors Challenge finalist. The response to the Mayors Challenge was extraordinary: bold and innovative ideas were submitted from every corner of the country.  We look forward to welcoming the Philadelphia team to Ideas Camp,” said James Anderson, who directs the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The 20 finalist ideas were rated on four key criteria: vision/creativity, ability to implement, potential for impact, and potential for replication.

A specially-assembled selection committee, co-chaired by Shona Brown, Senior Vice President and head of Google.org, and Ron Daniel, Bloomberg Philanthropies board member and Former Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company where he is still active, helped select the finalist cities.

Mayor Nutter’s response to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge is just the latest example of the Nutter Administration seeking new ways to engage and support Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial community.  

Just last week Mayor Nutter launched Startup PHL, an initiative to provide seed-stage funding to Philadelphia-based startups and to support community-building initiatives and programs through a “Call for Ideas.”