Birmingham is a Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge finalist—what this means

birmingham skyline
The Birmingham skyline from Vulcan Trail. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

The Bloomberg Philanthropies 2021 Global Mayors Challenge finalists are in, and the City of Birmingham made the cut. The challenge encourages cities to find solutions to urban issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep reading to learn more about Birmingham’s project and what that could mean for you.

The Birmingham Food Corps

Birmingham is in the running for some big prizes. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

For the Global Mayors Challenge, the City of Birmingham proposed a new initiative named the Birmingham Food Corps. This program addresses food deserts in our community. It plans to train and hire Birmingham City Schools graduates to meet the demands of the project.

A food desert is a place where healthy and affordable food options are scarce, if accessible at all. The City of Birmingham has worked this issue in the past, and hopefully this initiative will continue that work.

Unfortunately, roughly 70% of Birmingham residents live in areas that fall under this definition. But with the help of the Birmingham Food Corps, that number could drop. By training Birmingham City Schools graduates, the Birmingham Food Corps can create meaningful changes in local food systems.

“The pandemic showed us that we can’t rely on existing grocery store models and emergency food supply chains to meet the need in our community. We need to shift the balance of food power back to the community and catalyze home-grown solutions for food access.

The Mayors Challenge will help us test and refine how to do this, alongside local food system partners like Jones Valley Teaching Farm and neighborhood leaders who are immersed in this work.”

Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham

What is the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2021 Global Mayors Challenge

Birmingham from TJ Tower. Photo via Jon Eastwood

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg created The Bloomberg Philanthropies 2021 Global Mayors Challenge. The challenge’s goal is to encourage cities around the world to create solutions to issues that arose during the pandemic. The four key areas of the competition are

  • Economic Recovery & Inclusive Growth
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Climate & Environment
  • Good Governance & Equality

A total of 15 cities will win one million dollars and multi-year support to implement their programs. However, all 50 top cities will still receive coaching and resources to improve and support their ideas. Final winners will be announced in 2022.

Learn more

Birmingham may be 150 this year, but the Magic City is looking better than ever! Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
The Magic City could see big changes to food systems come 2022. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.

The City of Birmingham is a top-50 finalist in the competition, out of 630 applications from 99 countries. Seeing the variety and fierceness of the competition, that’s already a huge accomplishment. Plus, with the resources already allotted to The Magic City as a top 50 finalist, we may see some changes to our foodways in the next few years.

Learn more about the competition.

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Claire Hancock
Claire Hancock
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