Columbia continues to improve civic engagement despite not winning Bloomberg prize

Friday, November 16, 2012 | 7:10 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — In September, Columbia and 304 other cities submitted proposals competing for a $5 million grand prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge to fund innovative solutions to major challenges. 

Earlier this month, Bloomberg selected 20 finalists to attend an Ideas Camp in New York City. Columbia, which had hoped to develop a civic engagement lab, wasn't among those finalists.

Still, Lelande Rehard, an MU graduate student and a fellow working with City Manager Mike Matthes, said the city still plans on "increasing communication and creating a sense of engagement" between the city and residents.

"I think the next transition of city surveys might be geared towards that," Rehard said. "So we can figure out what works. We just can't study as many as once until we have the funds."

The city received no feedback from Bloomberg on its application.

If a similar opportunity for funding arises, Rehard said, the city would reconsider its original idea. 

"It's hard to say at this point," Rehard said. "We would need to reconsider how we would be able to use the funds and try to figure out a need here and to hopefully push that idea out to other cities to help them out."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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