January 20, 2022

Paterson, NJ wins Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Mayors Challenge

Yearlong Competition Launched in 2021 Elevates the Most Promising Urban Innovations to Emerge from the Pandemic.

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 the 15 winning cities of the 2021-2022 Global Mayors Challenge, a worldwide innovation competition that supports and spreads cities’ most promising ideas. These 15 winners are being recognized for designing the boldest and most ambitious urban innovations to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic. The winning ideas address one or more of four current issue areas in cities including economic recovery and inclusive growth; health and wellbeing; climate and environment; and gender and equality.

Paterson, USA’s Appropriate Medication-Assisted-Treatment Anytime, Anywhere, also known as "RealFix" was awarded one million dollars in addition to technical support and coaching over three years. The goal of RealFix is to make Suboxone, a medication which can alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings and protect against overdose, more easily available than illicit opioids. RealFix will also provide data driven referrals to vetted Medication Assisted Treatment providers thereby providing transparency.

“Paterson is committed to becoming a city of solutions and this award not only proves it but it will also help us save lives”, says Mayor Sayegh. “We are hopeful that our innovative idea will serve as a global model for other cities who are also addressing the Opioid epidemic.”

RealFix will have long-lasting impact on the well-being of the city residents because opioid addiction doesn’t just impact the sufferer.  Without an immediate alternative to opioids, the addicted will do almost anything to “score their fix”.  That includes robbery, prostitution and dealing drugs.  But with relief from withdrawal and a real fix available in just 90 minutes, for the first time anywhere, they have a true alternative.

“Overdose deaths reached record numbers during the global pandemic. That’s why it’s so important to support the City of Paterson to implement RealFix – a cutting-edge innovation with lessons for cities around the world working to combat the opioid epidemic, said Michael Odermatt, Mayors Challenge Program Manager for Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We’re proud to see this project advance.”

“As the world works to address the profound public health and economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, cities can implement innovative ideas at a pace that national governments simply can’t match,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “Our fifteen winners offer bold, achievable plans to improve health, reduce unemployment, empower women, and more. Collectively, they have the potential to improve millions of their residents’ lives – and the most successful solutions will inspire cities around the world to embrace them.”

Global Mayors Challenge

The 15 winning cities named Tuesday hail from 13 nations on six continents and collectively represent more than 30 million residents. They were selected from among 50 Champion Cities that spent the past four months rigorously testing and refining their projects. When the competition launched in January 2021, mayors from 631 cities in 99 countries submitted their boldest ideas to the competition.

The Mayors Challenge selection committee helped Bloomberg Philanthropies select the 15 winners. The committee is co-chaired by Bloomberg Philanthropies board member Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President, Ariel Investments, and David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee, and includes a wide range of global experts: Sir David Adjaye, OBE Founder, Adjaye Associates; Dr. Yogan Pillay, Country Director for South Africa and Senior Global Director for Universal Health Coverage, Clinton Health Access Initiative; Jagan Shah, Senior Infrastructure Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, British High Commission, New Delhi; Linda Gibbs, Principal, Bloomberg Associates; Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia; Olafur Eliasson, Artist; Gael Garcia Bernal, actor and producer; Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor of Economics and Director, Wellbeing Research Centre, University of Oxford; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; Federica Mogherini, Rector, College of Europe and Former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Director, Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Former Executive Director, Code for America; and Mariana Costa Checa, Co-Founder And CEO, Laboratoria.

Moving Forward

The 15 winning cities will now enter a three-year implementation period with a $1 million grant and robust technical assistance. During this time, the cities will work diligently to evolve and scale their idea into a real-life program to improve residents’ lives. Cities will also work to share their ideas with additional cities around the world to enable these tested innovations to spread.

“The Mayors Challenge shows that there can be a positive legacy to emerge from all the hardship of the past two years – and that it’s happening in our cities,” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Now we turn to help these mayors implement their ideas, evaluate, and spread the ideas that produce big impact.”