President Rivlin, representatives from the Bloomberg Foundation, Ministry of Interior, and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, Jerusalem, September 3, 2019. (Photo Mark Neiman/GPO)

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By United With Israel Staff

Bloomberg Philanthropies, in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, is expanding funding for its Innovation Teams program (i-teams) in Israel. This is in recognition of its already proven successes in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Beersheba.

“Through the innovation program, the partnership seeks to increase the number of cities using a tested, impactful approach to urban innovation to support the growth of all communities in Israel, including minority and peripheral communities,” Bloomberg Philanthropies wrote. “This proven method provides mayors and city leaders with a reliable way to test, adapt and implement effective solutions that improve the lives of residents.”

Called Hazira (the arena or the scene, in Hebrew), 12 additional Israeli cities will set-up innovation hubs over the next five years. The funding backs city mayors to build teams that investigate complex local challenges and create solutions with clear goals to improve lives.

Bloomberg Philanthropies was established in 2006 by former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg to tackle issues such as poverty, neighborhood revitalization and aging infrastructure.

“Cities have to find creative ways to address complex challenges with limited resources,” said former mayor Bloomberg in a statement. “Innovation teams help them do that, and our program has had a lot of success working with cities in Israel… we’re looking forward to seeing the results.”

Efrat Duvdevani, director-general at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation said that “innovation is the key to solving a lot of global issues, and integrating it at the municipal level will have a huge impact on some of the challenges facing Israelis today.”

The program was launched at the Peres Center in early September with a wide range of dignitaries and city mayors in attendance. Introductions were made by James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, as well as a keynote speech by Facebook Israel CEO Adi Sofer Teeni.

Michael Bloomberg greeted participants through a video presentation.

Program successes were shared at the event. These included that in Tel Aviv, since starting i-team in 2015, the city developed innovative ways to “tackle the high cost of living for young families by working with community members to find and implement cost-saving initiatives like shared study spaces, peer-to-peer tutoring, youth-led summer camps and an affordable school lunch program.”

Jerusalem residents have also benefited from the program, which was established there in 2017. Some 600 local entrepreneurs received consulting services to strengthen their small businesses and significant funding was secured from the municipality for alumni programs and civic organization for young professionals.

Services for homeless youth were streamlined and a tracking system was created in order to follow outcomes. Thus far, about 700 unshletered youth are being monitored and supported, stated Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Representatives from the Ministry of the Interior, the Bloomberg Foundation and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation have met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to hear about the expansion of Hazira.

To date, Bloomberg Philanthropies reports that it invests in 510 cities and 129 countries worldwide. It focuses on the arts, education, the environment, government innovation and public health with the goal of ensuring “better, longer lives for the greatest number of people.”

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Source: United with Israel