Release Date: June 15,2021

Akron Named as Finalist in Bloomberg Philanthropies 2021 Global Mayors Challenge

Akron among 50 Champion Cities Selected to Advance in Global Innovation Competition Uncovering Most Transformative Urban Solutions to Emerge During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Akron Enters Four-Month Testing Phase with Support from Bloomberg Philanthropies

 Akron, Ohio, June 15, 2021 — Akron is one of 50 Champion Cities selected today as finalists in the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, a global innovation competition that identifies and accelerates the most ambitious ideas developed by cities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These 50 urban innovations rose to the top of a competitive pool of more than 630 applications from 99 countries, in the first-ever Global Mayors Challenge.

As a Mayors Challenge finalist, Akron now advances to the four-month Champion Phase of the competition. From June through October, the 50 finalist cities will refine their ideas with technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies and its network of leading innovation experts. Fifteen of the 50 cities will ultimately win the grand prize, with each receiving $1 million and robust multi-year technical assistance to implement and scale their ideas. Grand Prize Winners will be announced in early 2022.

“These 50 finalists are showing the world that in the face of the pandemic’s enormous challenges, cities are rising to meet them with bold, innovative, and ambitious ideas,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “By helping these cities test their ideas over the coming months, we will have a chance to identify cutting-edge policies and programs that can allow cities to rebuild in ways that make them stronger and healthier, and more equal and more just.”

In Akron, the median income of Black households is $25,718, less than half the $54,347 median of White households. Thirty percent of Akron’s population is Black, but only one in two hundred owners of local traded-sector firms is African-American. Akron's proposed THRIVE (Targeted Help for Resilient InnoVative Entrepreneurs) program will address these “missing” entrepreneurs. By launching more Black-owned businesses, Akron intends to build wealth in the African-American community, reduce poverty and grow the local economy.

Aspiring Black entrepreneurs struggle to access the support they need to be successful. Local efforts in the past have been under-resourced and overtasked. This proposed program would build a new, supportive ecosystem by adopting a unique “medical rounds” approach, akin to what medical teams deliver in a hospital setting. Entrepreneurs will be assigned a Thrive Entrepreneurship Pathway Advisor (TEPA) who will guide the entrepreneur through the ecosystem. Akron will work in partnership with Bounce Innovation Hub, Akron Urban League, and the Ohio Small Business Development Center, among other like-minded partners who share the City's assessment of the problem and a determination to fix it.

“Data and lived experiences both reveal that Black Akronites have less wealth than they should,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan.  “As one of the 50 Champion Cities in the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, our goal is simple but bold: to create 200 new Black-owned businesses in Akron by 2030.  The THRIVE (Targeted Help for Resilient InnoVative Entrepreneurs) program will help us launch more Black-owned businesses and give them the support they need to be successful.  By doing so, we will build wealth in the African-American community and grow our city’s economy using our most powerful resource—our people.  This idea is impactful, collaborative, and scalable, and it will help us create a more equitable future.”

The 50 Champion Cities submitted ideas addressing four of the most significant challenges borne of the pandemic: Economic Recovery & Inclusive Growth; Health & Wellbeing; Climate & Environment; and Good Governance & Equality. A prestigious selection committee co-chaired by Bloomberg Philanthropies board member Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President, Ariel Investments, and David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee, assessed the applications to determine the Champion City finalists.

“This is always an especially exciting phase of the Mayors Challenge, helping mayors push their innovations to even greater heights," said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies. "While 15 cities will ultimately take home grand prizes, all 50 cities receive world class coaching and support to improve their ideas and their potential to improve lives." 

The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge builds on the success of four previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013 and 2018), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). For more information, visit mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million. For more information, please visit www.bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter.