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Ex-NY mayor Bloomberg to grant $200 mln to US cities

By AFP 27 June 2017

Former New York mayor and billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg announced Monday a $200 million plan Monday aiming to back inventive policies in American cities despite political tumult in Washington.

Under its “American Cities Initiative,” Bloomberg Philanthropies will invest the money over the the next three years in a bid to “incentivize and support the innovative efforts” of cities.

“We are in the middle of a political era defined by partisan paralysis, and nowhere is it worse than in Washington,” Bloomberg, the world’s tenth richest person, told a meeting of US mayors in Florida. 

“Compared to any other era in modern American politics, our nation’s capital has been unable to address the great challenges we face.”

The US Conference of Mayors met in Miami Beach as American cities have taken a growing role in areas where they see the President Donald Trump’s policies as lacking.

That includes tackling climate change and immigration, negotiating with Canada and helping the poor.

“Here’s the good news: as Washington has grown more dysfunctional, cities have grown more dynamic, and mayors have grown more powerful and important,” said Bloomberg, who had contemplated running for president in 2016 as an independent.

“Mayors are working across the aisle in ways that Washington wouldn’t dare.”

The grants will aim to help cities solve problems in key areas including education, climate change and public health — three core focus areas of Bloomberg, who founded the communications and data giant that bears his name.

The money will be allocated in part based on competition: cities with at least 30,000 residents are invited to submit programs to the foundation. 

Five will be selected for funding next year, with the grand prize winner receiving $5 million and the other four given $1 million each.

Included in the selection criteria is a project’s potential to spread to other cities.

Since US president Donald Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord early this month, Bloomberg has stepped up efforts pushing US cities and businesses to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

The bid to buck Trump has involved mobilizing more than 1,000 US companies, organizations and local authorities to bolster their work against climate change. 

Bloomberg also went on a European tour to reassure people there of efforts to fulfill commitments already made by the US. DM

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