Tate Williams

The Promise and Limits of Cities and Billionaires in Trump’s America

Tate Williams September 22, 2017

There’s a certain amount of comfort to be taken from living in an American city during the Trump era—that is, if you’re not thrilled with where the nation at large has lately been headed.

I suspect a lot of people were very encouraged when their cities refused to use local resources for ICE enforcement, or more than 300 mayors said they would remain committed to the Paris Agreement. Mike Bloomberg helped rally those mayors and others, and even agreed to pay $15 million toward UN operating costs when the U.S. withdrew. You sometimes get this sense that just maybe, with the help of some kindly billionaires, cities can rally together and take a crack at a more progressive America.

Bloomberg has long been something of a patron saint for the power of cities as leaders, especially when it comes to climate change. But lately, since Trump’s election, Mike’s city-centric vision has become suddenly more relevant—which explains Bloomberg Philanthropies’ major new move in this space.

A $200 million grantmaking program, announced this week, pulls together anti-Trump defiance and can-do Bloomberginess into an effort to elevate mayors as problem solvers and national leaders. The program is another sign of just how important city and philanthropy team-ups have become, with larger issues increasingly at stake. But this latest big bet by Bloomberg, part of a broader recent surge in urban-focused philanthropy, also raises questions about the extent to which cities can lead the way on some of America’s most pressing challenges—and how appropriate it is for private funders to be underwriting such a role.

Read the full article at Inside Philanthropy.

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