As mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg is in a position to understand the challenges his peers face in cities across the country. As a billionaire, he’s also in a position to help them with an influx of cash.
Through his own private charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the New York mayor is sending $4.2 million to New Orleans to support programs to reduce the city’s notoriously high murder rate and also to boost efficiency at City Hall. The money is part of a $24 million pot Bloomberg has awarded through his new Mayors Project, with the rest going to Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; and Memphis, Tenn.
“Mayors are uniquely positioned to tackle some of our most pressing challenges,” Bloomberg said. “The Mayors Project will fuel these efforts by spreading effective programs and strategies between cities and helping mayors work together in new ways around solutions.”
The Mayors Project is aimed at relative newcomers to their City Hall positions. All of the mayors chosen for the grants were in the first 18 months of their terms in office when the funding was awarded, and each was asked to select two initiatives for the funding.
In New Orleans, this money will pay for salaries and operating costs for staff tasked with coordinating a system-wide response to murder. The grant will help fund the city’s Criminal Justice Commissioner, an office that Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration created in the spring, with former city councilmember James Carter at the helm.
“The commissioner will serve as a partner alongside other key leaders as we tackle this issue at the neighborhood level,” Landrieu said. “Our mission is clear, change the culture of death and violence on the streets of New Orleans to a culture of peace and safety and security.”
The Mayors Project funding will also support a push to improve customer service at City Hall. For example, the Landrieu administration wants to create a “one-stop shop” for permitting to reduce wait times and processing times.
While Bloomberg is serving as mayor of New York he also oversees a personal fortune amassed from the financial news giant he founded, Bloomberg L.P. Last spring, Forbes magazine ranked him as the 10th richest American with a net worth of $18 billion.