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Albuquerque Selected for National Effort to Drive Innovation in Community Engagement

Citi Foundation and Living Cities to help eleven cities in the United States pilot leading innovations in local government.

May 19, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE - The City of Albuquerque announced that it has been selected to join the City Accelerator, a $3 million program of the Citi Foundation and Living Cities to help eleven cities in the United States pilot leading innovations in local government. As part of the City Accelerator’s newest cohort, Albuquerque, along with four other cities, will work to expand community engagement efforts that help drive economic opportunities for low-income residents. 

Over the next 18 months, leaders in the cohort will work to develop the systems, skills and knowledge to incorporate innovative approaches to community engagement into their normal course of business. Each of the cities will focus on a particular area of opportunity to use their enhanced community engagement tools. 

“I am extremely pleased that Albuquerque has been chosen by the Citi Foundation and Living Cities for this national effort to promote innovation in local government. This is an extraordinary opportunity for Albuquerque to bring our tremendous local leaders together with significant resources to address challenges and seek solutions right here at home,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “We have great partners and great ideas that will create opportunities to impact our future and the future of our citizens in a very positive way.”

Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative is a collaborative partnership of institution, funders, nonprofits, public organization, businesses and individuals focused on coordinating efforts to create a new economic reality. Albuquerque’s Integration Initiative vision is to accelerate job creation and economic mobility through innovation and entrepreneurship to help our city reach its full potential as a desirable place to live, work, and prosper. Mayor Berry has a history of collaborating with the community to create new public processes for deeper engagement and centralizing how the city operates and delivers services to residents. A focus is put on innovation-based economic development and engagement and identifying the best ways to create a supportive ecosystem which empowers individuals to start and grow a business right here in Albuquerque.

“Cities have an opportunity to address the complex challenges that come with urbanization by tapping into their strongest natural resource – their citizens,” said Ed Skyler, Chairman of the Citi Foundation. “The City Accelerator is helping city governments to engage with their citizens so they can improve services and achieve positive measureable results on critical local issues. We look forward to continuing to work with mayors to promote innovation, improve citizen engagement, and enhance quality-of-life in their cities.”

“When it comes to addressing poverty in American cities, the pace of progress is simply too slow and the change too small,” said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities, which, for its part, has been stepping up its efforts to help cities engage their communities more effectively. “In order to achieve dramatically better results for residents, faster, local efforts must be shaped, as least in part, by the people they are intended to benefit. This isn’t just about better policy – it’s also about helping reinvigorate our democracy.”

The City Accelerator allows selected U.S. cities to develop models for innovation that generate economic opportunities for low-income populations and help municipalities run more effectively. Participating cities benefit from ongoing interaction with leading practitioners from around the country and share lessons learned to advance progress.

Eric Gordon, Director of the Engagement Lab and Associate Professor at Emerson College, will lead the first cohort. “Each of these cities is focusing on a pivotal problem of our time, and they are eager to find ways to bring their residents into the work of solving those problems,” said Gordon. “I’m especially excited by their willingness to think outside the box.”

Ten cities applied for the cohort, and seven: Los Angeles and Minneapolis in addition to Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans and Seattle, were selected as finalists. The six finalists recorded video pitches that were posted online at Governing.com for public review, comment and rating.  Over 12,000 people viewed the videos, rated them, and/ or shared them on social media.  Each of these cities also participated in a convening of the finalists, at which each presented the problems they sought to solve and explored solutions beyond what they had initially proposed.  The strength of the finalists’ proposals, their focus on both compelling projects and systemic change, their participation in the convening, and public input on their video pitches were all considered in selecting the cohort cities.

Living Cities will capture learnings from the work of the cohort for use by the broader field.  The Governing Institute, with separate support from the Citi Foundation, will provide ongoing coverage of the learnings coming out of the cohort cities and related innovation efforts in other cities in a dedicated section of their website at www.governing.com/cityaccelerator.

The City Accelerator builds on the Project on Municipal Innovation (PMI), a collaboration between Living Cities and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. PMI convenes mayoral chiefs-of-staff and policy directors from 35 cities across the United States to discuss challenges facing their municipalities, including inefficiency in city government and inequality. The City Accelerator helps translate dialogue into action by giving cities seed funding to adopt many of the ideas discussed during the PMI sessions.

With a focus on municipal innovation, the City Accelerator also reinforces Citi’s commitment to help cities become more efficient and empower citizens by providing access to services that enhance livability and prosperity. For more information about how Citi is enabling progress in cities, please visit www.citiforcities.com.

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About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.

About Living Cities

Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Additional information can be found at www.livingcities.org.