Austin has been named one of 30 cities that will participate in a Bloomberg Philanthropies program to help local governments confront budget pressures while supporting their commitment to equity in the wake of COVID-19.
The What Works Cities’ City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery program is designed to help cities develop and implement plans to drive financial recovery in a way that safeguards low-income residents and communities of color.
“The City of Austin has placed equity at the heart of our fiscal response to COVID-19, by prioritizing grants and loans to those who need it most,” said City of Austin Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo. “We look forward to teaming up with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the 29 other participating cities in using the latest data, trusted expertise, and peer input to build on our progress and make sure our recovery works for everyone.”
Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2015, What Works Cities is one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance cities’ use of data and evidence to solve big problems.
Through the City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery program, it will support mayors, chief financial officers, and budget directors to use data-driven best practices as they continue to manage their pandemic responses.
The program will cover challenges most pressing to city financial leaders including:
- Understanding, accessing and spending COVID relief funds;
- Financing that enables strong budget health;
- Increasing revenues in a way that doesn’t disproportionately impact low-income families; and
- Incorporating an equity analysis into major budget decisions.
Program participants will receive guidance from finance experts in the public, private, and academic sectors, engage with their peers in interactive workshops, and receive customized support and technical assistance, valued at over $100,000 per city.
What Works Cities will share the learnings and resources developed during the program publicly to ensure that cities everywhere are able to apply them to their local budgeting process.
“Cities across the country are facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Revenues are down, demand for services is up, there is uncertainty about what support cities will receive from the federal government, and there are urgent needs around racial equity,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and 108th Mayor of New York City. “Through this new initiative, we will offer municipal leaders tools to help them navigate the crisis, setting a path more cities can follow as they develop their own recovery plans.”