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Bloomberg grant aims to bring better public services to Minneapolis

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Minneapolis has $900,000 coming its way in each of the next three years and it's the city's residents who stand to gain the most.

Mayor Betsy Hodges announced Monday that Minneapolis is one of 12 cities across the nation selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies for its "Innovation Teams" grants. The money will go toward formation of an innovation team, or i-team, whose first mission is to analyze whether core city services are being delivered to residents equitably, according to a release from the city. Hodges said those services could range from car towing in snow emergencies to cleaning up graffiti.

The i-team also promises improvements where public services might be falling short.

"In cases where there is inequitable service delivery or outcomes," Hodges said in a statement, "[we will] work collaboratively with departments to identify and implement strategies to address the disparity.”

Bloomberg's innovation teams are akin to consultants, moving from one case to the next, reports the Pioneer Press. They also troubleshoot problems using "data, open innovation, and strong project and performance management" to improve citizens' lives and address urban challenges, according to the organization's website.

It's the second year of the i-teams program, and Bloomberg says its grants have already had measurable success in the cities chosen for the award last year. The organization lists "minimizing unnecessary ambulance trips to the emergency room in Louisville, cutting licensing time for new restaurants in Chicago, reducing homelessness in Atlanta, and reducing the murder rate in New Orleans" among its previous successes.

Minneapolis is hoping for the same sort of results, and according to Mayor Hodges, the work the i-teams do is in line with social improvement efforts already underway in the city.

“Innovation Delivery is an ideal fit for the work we are already doing at the City to examine our own internal practices and how we deliver services to residents,” said Hodges.

She added the grant presents a "remarkable opportunity" for the city to continue its work to advance racial equity.

The other recipient cities are Albuquerque; Boston; Centennial, Colorado; Jersey City, New Jersey; Long Beach, California; Los Angeles; Mobile, Alabama; Peoria, Illinois; Rochester, New York; Seattle; and Syracuse, New York.

Bloomberg Philanthropies says its mission is to "ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number" by focusing its efforts on five areas: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts, according to the organization's website.

The i-teams are expected to get to work no later than the spring of 2015.

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