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Denver Wins $1 Million in Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge

DENVER - Michael R. Bloomberg today announced Denver 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.

Denver was selected as a winner for their innovative approach partnering with Denver Public Schools to protect children with asthma from the negative effects of poor air quality. Denver aims to utilize a real-time, hyper-local air-quality data-monitoring system with cutting-edge air pollution sensor technology to collect and interpret data, and then disseminate the results to the community in a meaningful way. School-based programming to reduce pollution sources and limit exposure to poor air quality will be developed in partnership with students, parents, school nurses, teachers and staff. 

“We are honored to have been selected as a winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge, and we are especially excited that the groundbreaking technology developed by our team may ultimately benefit children around the world,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We look forward to using the air quality data captured by this technology to inform policy decisions on a community-wide basis here in the Mile High City.”

Denver, CO joins Durham, NC, Fort Collins, CO, Georgetown, TX, Huntington, WV, Los Angeles, CA, New Rochelle, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and South Bend, IN 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 Denver 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.

“Our air quality experts are true innovators and problem solvers,” said Bob McDonald, Executive Director of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment and the Public Health Administrator for the City of Denver. “Denver families spend more than $30 million annually on asthma-related costs. By installing sensors at local schools to obtain real-time air quality data, changes can be made to reduce pollution and mitigate the effects on students, hopefully lessening the health impacts and financial strain on families.”

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