The cities of Lake Elsinore and Wildomar each have a shot of winning millions of dollars at the expense of the philanthropic foundation headed by New York City's billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg is using his personal fortune to try to spark innovation in the nation's cities by challenging mayors to compete for millions of dollars in funding for new programs that address challenges and enhance life.
The mayors of U.S. municipalities with at least 30,000 residents – which includes Lake Elsinore's Brian Tisdale and Wildomar's Ben Benoit -- are invited to compete in the Mayors Challenge, launched Wednesday by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The Challenge will award a grand prize of $5 million and four smaller prizes of $1 million each.
The program aims to reward creative thinking that can ultimately make a difference in many cities, Bloomberg told The Associated Press.
"We all have similar problems," Bloomberg told The Associated Press. "Everybody's got financial problems. Everybody's got health problems. Everybody's got problems in how they bring crime down and improve education. How they communicate with the taxpayer, the citizens. How they provide services and make sure they're targeted and efficient."
Bloomberg told the news agency that mayors are better positioned than community organizations, governors and even presidents to make a difference when it comes to delivering local services.
"Governors and presidents redistribute and work at a different level, a policy level. Mayors have to get stuff done," Bloomberg said. "Organizations tend to talk a lot, and some do some things. Mayors don't have that option. Mayors, if you don't deliver something, you are out of office pretty quickly."
Applications for the Mayors Challenge are due Sept. 14, and winners will be announced in May after teams from finalist cities attend an "Ideas Camp" at which they can refine their proposals.
According to the Challenge rules, cities must propose ideas that improve "city life by addressing a major social or economic issue, improving the customer service experience for citizens or businesses, increasing government efficiency, and/or enhancing accountability, transparency, and public engagement," according to the foundation.
Click here to read more about the Mayors Challenge.