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About The Award

Frequently Asked Questions


Who is eligible to apply?

While we encourage and expect our cities to collaborate with citizens, nonprofit organizations, and other governmental entities (e.g., counties, states), Cities of Service only accepts applications from city governments. To be eligible, cities must have 30,000 or more residents and be located in the Americas or Europe.

Does my city need to be a Cities of Service coalition member to apply?

No, there is no requirement to be a member of the Cities of Service coalition to apply. All applicants are welcome to join the coalition.

If my city is a current or former Cities of Service grantee, can we still apply?

Yes, current grantees may apply! However, current grantees may not submit applications for activities that are currently funded by Cities of Service. Applications for activities previously funded by Cities of Service may be eligible if they have been sustained and/or enhanced since the conclusion of the grant.

About the Award

How much is the prize money?

The three winners will each be awarded a minimum of $50,000 each.

What can my city use the prize money for?

The Engaged Cities Award is a recognition program, designed to elevate tested solutions that have been shown to successfully address public problems through citizen engagement. This is not an implementation grant program. Prize money can be used at the discretion of the winning cities to support their efforts to engage citizens to solve critical public problems.  

What support can I expect from Cities of Service if my city is selected as a finalist and/or a winner?

The Engaged Cities Award is a recognition program, not a grant program. Engaged Cities Award finalists and winners may receive media coverage and recognition leading up to, during, and after the Engaged Cities Award Summit in fall 2019. Cities of Service may publicize the work of Engaged Cities Award finalists and winners to showcase their efforts and spur activity  in cities looking to accomplish similar change in their own cities.

Cities of Service may also monitor the work of Engaged Cities Award finalists and winners, which may include visits to observe activities, discussions of the impact of their activities with city personnel and partners, and documentation of the city’s activities to facilitate replication in  other cities. Finalist and winning cities are eligible to receive technical assistance from Cities of Service.

What is the role of Bloomberg Philanthropies in this award?  

The Engaged Cities Award is generously underwritten by Bloomberg Philanthropies, but there is no coordination between this opportunity and other programs administered by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Applicants, finalists, and winners are not restricted from applying to or participating in other Bloomberg Philanthropies programs. Cities of Service is an independent nonprofit organization.  

Application Process

How many applications can my city submit?

Each application must focus on how the city addressed one public problem. If your city would like to share how it addressed additional  public problems, please submit a separate application for each. Cities may submit up to three applications. If your city submits multiple applications, a maximum of one may be selected as a finalist. We will clearly indicate which application is being considered in the finalist round.

Who can submit an application?

Applications must be submitted by a representative of the city under the direction, approval, and endorsement of an authorized executive or body (e.g., mayor, chief executive, city manager, or equivalent).

How do I submit my application?

Applications are only accepted through the Engaged Cities Award website ( You may download a copy of the questions to prepare answers before submitting them on the website. You may also save the online application in-process and return to it to complete and review your entry prior to submission. Once an application is submitted, it is not possible to edit further.

When are applications due?

Applications must be submitted by Friday, January 18, 2019.

How many questions are on the application?

The application consists of five questions, each ranging from 250 to 350 words. As part of the application, cities are also encouraged to submit a short 30 – 90 second video (via hyperlink only) that explains why your application should be selected as a winner. The production quality of the video will not be a factor in evaluation.

Is there a language requirement for the application?

Yes. All applications, including answers to the questions and optional video, must be submitted in English. The video may be subtitled or dubbed in English.

What if I have a question about applying or filling out the application itself?

If you don’t find the answer on our website or in the FAQ, you can email questions to [email protected]. You can watch our past informational webinar about the award by clicking on the button below.

Can applications come from partnerships of two or more cities, city and regional governments, or other combinations of government entities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations?

While applications must be made only by individual city governments, a city may submit an application that involves supporting partners. Partners, for the purpose of the Engaged Cities Award, can be businesses, nonprofit organizations, citizens, and other governmental entities, including, but not limited to state governments, other city governments, and other public systems or institutions. If a partner provides you with funding, you are still eligible to apply for the award. When supporting partners are involved, the application must clearly describe the substantive role played by the city as the lead partner. If the city did not play a lead role, the application will not be considered.


How does Cities of Service define “citizens”?

Cities of Service defines citizens, regardless of their legal status, as residents who actively participate in their community and who see themselves as an integral part of their city. Citizens can be involved in many ways. For example, citizens may help plant trees or map blighted property in their neighborhood. They can also contribute ideas to help prevent river flooding, lead community groups to maintain stewardship of public spaces, and provide feedback to improve existing city programs and services.

What does Cities of Service mean by “public problem”?

Cities of Service defines “public problem” as: 1) a problem that directly affects the daily lives of citizens, such as homelessness, neighborhood safety, extreme weather, literacy or food insecurity, and/or 2) a problem that inhibits how cities deliver services, such as ineffective deployment of resources, underutilized programs, or perpetuation of silos or bureaucracy. We are looking for solutions that actively engage citizens in reducing or solving a public problem.

What are the components of a strong application?

Applications must have clear evidence of impact and strongly demonstrate how their city taps into the insights, skills, and service of citizens to identify and solve the problem. These solutions demonstrate creativity, are transferable, create efficiencies, and foster collaboration and connections among citizens, city leaders, and other key stakeholders.

Will applications with a more complex problem and/or larger scope be favored over those that are simpler or smaller in scope?


No. All applications, regardless of the problem complexity and scope, will be scored using the same three criteria. We will review how citizens were engaged in the design and/or implementation of the solution; how significantly the public problem was decreased or eliminated; and the transferability of the solution to other cities.

What does Cities of Service mean by “transferable”?

Although the particular problem the city sought to solve may be unique, other cities should be able to adopt key elements of the solution to solve similar problems.

Can we submit an application for activities that we want to implement, or have just begun to implement?

Applications must be for activities that have already been implemented and show evidence of significantly decreasing or solving a public problem. Applications that do not show evidence of significant impact on a public problem are not eligible.

What are the categories and how do I select?

Cities of Service, through extensive work with cities, has identified five categories that broadly classify citizen engagement efforts in cities:

  • Citizen-Sourced Data: Engage citizens in data collection and/or analysis to create or enhance services, resources, or policies. For more information, see Cities of Service guide, Citizen-Sourced Data in Your City.
  • Crowdsourcing: Leverage citizen expertise, experience, and ideas to create or enhance services, resources, or policies. For more information, see 2018 Engaged Cities Award Finalist Mexico City.
  • Impact Volunteering: Engage citizens in direct service as volunteers to help solve a tangible problem affecting the lives of residents. For more information, see Cities of Service Love Your Block Blueprint.
  • Participatory Design: Involve citizens as part of the design process to create or improve services, resources, or policies. For more information, see 2018 Engaged Cities Award Finalist Helsinki.
  • Other: If a project does not fit into one of the four categories above, applicants must define a category and provide a one-sentence explanation.


While your application may have elements of different categories, please select the category that is most representative. If these categories are not representative of your initiative, you may select “Other” and provide a name and one-sentence category description.

What if the solution my city submits is already being implemented by other cities?  

That is exciting! We want to hear about tested solutions that are demonstrating impact, especially those already being implemented by other cities. Please be sure to explain in your application.

Selection Process

What happens after I submit my application?

All applications will be reviewed and evaluated after the January 18, 2019 deadline. You will receive a notification from Cities of Service in February 2019 if you are selected to move on to the second round.

What can my city expect if we make it to the second round?

Cities that make it to the second round will submit an additional, more comprehensive application. The second-round application asks cities to provide more details that will help us select the finalists and winners.  

Who selects the finalists and winners?

Cities of Service, with support of a review committee consisting of leading experts and practitioners, will review all second-round applications and select 10 cities as finalists and three of those cities as winners. 

When will the winning cities be announced?

Winning cities will be announced in fall 2019.

Engaged Cities Award Summit

What is the Engaged Cities Award Summit?

The Engaged Cities Award Summit is a convening of mayors, senior officials, funders, and other international leaders that showcases successful municipal solutions that engage citizens to solve critical public problems.

When will the 2019 Engaged Cities Award Summit be held?

The Engaged Cities Award Summit will be held in fall 2019. We will share more details about the summit as we have them.

Will a representative from my city be able to attend the Engaged Cities Award Summit?

Representatives from finalist and winning cities will be invited to attend the summit. We will share more details about the summit as we have them.

Learn more

Rules & Eligibility

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