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About The Award

Frequently Asked Questions


Who is eligible to apply?

Cities of Service welcomes application from cities only – nonprofits, individuals, counties, states, etc. are not eligible. 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.

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

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

About the Award

How much is the prize money?

The three winners will be awarded $70,000 each.

What can my city use the award funds for?
The Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award is a recognition program, designed to elevate tested strategies that have been shown successfully address public problems through citizen engagement. This is not an implementation grant program. Funds can be used at the discretion of the winning cities in support of furthering the city’s efforts to engage their citizens to tackle problems.

Is the Engaged Cities Award an Annual Opportunity?

Yes, the Engaged Cities Award will be an annual program recognizing municipal leaders that creatively and effectively harness the power of citizens to solve public problems. The Engaged Cities Award to be awarded in 2018 is the recognition program’s inaugural year.

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 Summit in May 2018. Cities of Service may publicize the work of Engaged Cities Award finalists and winners to showcase their efforts and spur replication in cities looking to accomplish similar change in their own city. Cities of Service may monitor the work of Engaged Cities Award finalists and winners, which may include visits to observe their strategy in action if the strategy is still operational, discuss the strategy and its impact with the city’s personnel and partners, and document the strategy to facilitate replication by 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 Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award is generously underwritten by Bloomberg Philanthropies, but there is no coordination or restrictions between this opportunity and Government Innovation programs administered by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Cities of Service is an independent, nonprofit organization.


How many applications can my city submit?

Each application must focus on one strategy. If your city would like to share multiple strategies for consideration, please submit a separate application for each strategy. There is no limit to the number of applications that your city can submit. If your city submit multiple strategies and is selected as a finalist, we will clearly indicate which strategy is being considered in the finalist round.

Who can submit the application?

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

Where can I submit my application?

Applications are only accepted through the Engaged Cities Award website. You may download a copy of the questions as well as save and return to the application to review your entry prior to submitting by the deadline.

When are applications due?

The application period closed on Friday, January 5, 2018. To stay informed about the Engaged Cities Award, including finalists, winners, and future opportunities to apply, please sign up for our mailing list.

How many questions are on the application?

The application consists of five questions, each ranging from 1,000 – 1,500 characters. Cities are also encouraged to submit a short 30 – 60 second video that explains why your strategy should be selected as a winner. The production quality of the video will not be a factor in the evaluation rubric.

Is there a language requirement for the application?

Yes. Your application, including answers to the questions and optional video, must be submitted in English.

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

If you don’t find the answer in the FAQ, you can email questions to You can also listen to a recording from our informational webinar that took place on December 12 to learn more about the award and application process.

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

While submissions must be made only by single cities, a city may submit an idea that involves supporting partners. Partners, for the purpose of the Engaged Cities Award, can mean businesses, nonprofit organizations, citizens, and other governmental entities, including, but not limited to state governments, sub-municipalities, and a range of other public systems or institutions. If your partner provides you with funding you are still eligible to apply for the award. When supporting partners are involved, the application must clearly and substantively describe the role of the city as the lead partner.


How does Cities of Service define “citizen”?

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 do much more, including contributing ideas to help solve river flooding, leading community groups to maintain stewardship of public spaces, and providing feedback to improve existing city programs and services.

What are the components of a strong strategy?

The strongest strategies intentionally tap the expertise and talent of citizens to tackle public problems. They demonstrate creativity, create efficiencies, are replicable, and foster collaboration and connections among citizens, city leaders, and key stakeholders.

Can we submit a strategy that we want to implement but haven’t introduced yet?

Strategies must have already been implemented and show evidence of significantly decreasing (or completely solving!) a public problem. Strategies that have not been implemented or have not demonstrated impact are not eligible.

What does Cities of Service mean by replicability?

Although the particular problem the city sought to solve may be unique to one city, the strategy should be replicable by other cities to solve similar or other challenges and benefit their respective citizens.

What if my strategy is already being replicated by other cities?

That is exciting! We want to hear about tested strategies that are demonstrating impact, especially those being replicated by other cities.

Can the strategy solve a process problem or improve something internally rather than a specific public problem?

We are looking for strategies that reduce, or completely solve, a public problem. While seeking to address a public problem, citizen engagement strategies may also improve internal operations, however we are looking for strategies that ultimately engage citizens in addressing a public problem.

Selection Process

What happens after I submit my application?

All applications will be reviewed and evaluated after the January 5, 2018 deadline. You will receive a notification from Cities of Service in March 2018 if you are selected as a finalist.

Who selects the finalists?

Cities of Service will select 10 cities as finalists.

What can my city expect if we are chosen as a finalist?

Engaged Cities Award finalists submit an additional, more comprehensive application. The finalist application asks cities to provide more details about the identified challenge, city leadership involvement, deliberations with the community, strategy impact, replicability, and lessons learned.

Who selects the winners?

Cities of Service, with the support of a Review Committee consisting of leading experts and practitioners, will select three cities as winners.

When will the winning cities be announced?

Winning cities will be announced in May 2018.

Engaged Cities Award Summit

What is the Engaged Cities Award Summit?

The Engaged Cities Award Summit is an annual convening attended by mayors, senior officials, funders, and other national leaders to showcase and learn about successful strategies that engage citizens to solve problems.

Where and when will the Engaged Cities Summit be held?

The Engaged Cities Award Summit will be held in New York City in May 2018.

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.

Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award

Learn more about our 10 finalists