PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s capital city has been named a finalist in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition designed to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras announced Monday.
Providence, which was named as a top 20 finalist, will compete against the other 19 finalists for a $5 million grand prize as well as one of four additional prizes of $1 million each.
The city’s idea was to boost education outcomes for low-income children by increasing the number of words they hear by their fourth birthday. According to a release from Taveras’ office, research shows that children born into low-income homes hear 30 million fewer words than their middle- and high-income peers by the time they reach 4 years old.
Under the city initiative, the state’s home visitation services would equip families in Providence with the technology and coaching necessary to measure the child’s household auditory environment and intervene to close vocabulary deficits in real time.
“I am thrilled that Providence is a finalist in the Mayors Challenge,” said Taveras in prepared remarks. “I look forward to a team of city leaders attending the upcoming Bloomberg Ideas Camp to fine-tune our innovative plan to ensure every child in Providence begins school with language skills that will enable them to excel in the classroom and succeed throughout their lives.”
A Providence team will attend the upcoming Bloomberg Ideas Camp in New York City and work collaboratively with the other 19 finalists as well as experts to full refine their project ideas. Once leaving the camp, the Providence team will have access to additional technical support in order to prepare their final ideas for submission.
“Congratulations to Mayor Taveras and the city of Providence for becoming a Mayors Challenge finalist,” James Anderson, director of the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said in a statement. “The response to the Mayors Challenge was extraordinary: bold and innovative ideas were submitted from every corner of the country.”
The 20 Mayors Challenge finalists were rated on vision/creativity, ability to implement, potential for impact and potential for replication. Winners will be announced in the spring of 2013.