Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the City of South Bend as a winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge, a yearlong competition that challenged city leaders to uncover and test bold, inventive ideas to confront the toughest problems faced by cities today. Nine cities will receive $1 million to begin implementation on potentially breakthrough solutions to homelessness, the opioid crisis, mobility, climate change, and economic opportunity.

South Bend was selected as a winner for its innovative approach in addressing transportation as a primary barrier to stable employment for part-time and shift workers. The City aims to establish an integrated on-demand transportation program as an employer-funded benefit, resulting in decreased turnover, improved job stability, and increased take-home pay.

“We are thrilled by this partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies to address a major challenge in our time: overcoming the transportation barrier for low-income workers,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said. “We believe our city’s innovation on this issue can create major new opportunities for inclusive economic growth, not just in South Bend but for many cities like ours–and now we will have the resources to develop this approach at scale.”

South Bend joins Denver, CO; Durham, NC; Fort Collins, CO; Georgetown, TX; Huntington, WV; Los Angeles, CA; New Rochelle, NY; and Philadelphia, PA as winners of the U.S. Mayors Challenge.

“Mayors across the country are tackling the big issues that Washington is ignoring. This competition is designed to help them do even more, by incentivizing and supporting big – and achievable – new ideas,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City. “Congratulations to all of the winning mayors, who represent cities large and small, in regions across the country. We look forward to seeing the results of their work – and to helping the ideas that prove most effective spread far and wide.”

The Mayors Challenge Selection Committee, co-chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns, is comprised of distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives, and social innovation leaders. The committee evaluated the cities applications based on their idea’s vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities to choose South Bend as among the nine winning cities.

New to the Mayors Challenge this year was a 6-month “test and learn” phase where each of the 35 Champion Cities received up to $100,000 and technical assistance to test and build support for their ideas. Cities tested core components of their ideas with residents, improved and refined their proposals, and developed a plan for implementation and impact measurement.

“The Mayor’s Innovation Challenge sets us on a path to unlock economic mobility for our residents and assist local employers’ bottom lines by offering Transportation as a Benefit,” said Chief Innovation Officer Santiago Garces. “Our initial evidence show residents are less stressed, earning more money while our companies observe less absenteeism and difficulties scheduling shifts.”

The U.S. Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg Philanthropies-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). Previous Mayors Challenge winners include São Paulo, Brazil with a program to increase farmers’ income and reduce urban sprawl; Barcelona, Spain for work to create digital trust networks that support at-risk elderly citizens; and Providence, RI, for a program to measure and reduce the “word gap” among low-income children during pivotal brain development years. For more information, visit


Mark Bode