Philadelphia Wins $1 Million in Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge
Award will fund “Hub for Juvenile Justice Services,” to create a new national model for how children are treated in the criminal justice system

PHILADELPHIA – Michael R. Bloomberg today announced Philadelphia as a winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge, a yearlong competition that challenged city leaders to uncover and test bold, inventive ideas to confront the toughest problems faced by cities today. Philadelphia is among nine cities that will receive $1 million to begin implementation on potentially breakthrough solutions to homelessness, the opioid crisis, mobility, climate change, justice reform, and economic opportunity.

Philadelphia was selected as a winner for its proposal to create a “Hub for Juvenile Justice Services,” a 24/7 integrated service center for children at point of entry to the justice system. Staff at the Hub would receive training to respond to the needs of youth and families and make referrals to prevention services, community supports, and pretrial diversion programs when appropriate.

The Hub would provide children with immediate and long-term access to social services and supports through a centralized, trauma-informed facility. Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.

“I know I share the sentiments of all of Philadelphia’s juvenile justice partners in voicing thanks to Michael Bloomberg and the Bloomberg Philanthropies for this award,” said Mayor Kenney. “The Hub for Juvenile Justice Services could be a transformative development for Philadelphia and could serve as a national model for how children are treated in the justice system.  This award will jumpstart the Hub and potentially change the course of many young lives.”

Philadelphia joins Denver, CO, Durham, NC, Fort Collins, CO, Georgetown, TX, Huntington, WV, Los Angeles, CA, New Rochelle, NY, and South Bend, IN as winners of the U.S. Mayors Challenge.

“Mayors across the country are tackling the big issues that Washington is ignoring. This competition is designed to help them do even more, by incentivizing and supporting big – and achievable – new ideas,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City. “Congratulations to all of the winning mayors, who represent cities large and small, in regions across the country. We look forward to seeing the results of their work — and to helping the ideas that prove most effective spread far and wide.”

The Mayors Challenge Selection Committee, co-chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns, is comprised of distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives, and social innovation leaders. The committee evaluated the cities applications based on their idea’s vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities to choose Philadelphia as among the nine winning cities.

New to the Mayors Challenge this year was a 6-month “test and learn” phase where each of the 35 Champion Cities received up to $100,000 and technical assistance to test and build support for their ideas. Cities tested core components of their ideas with residents, improved and refined their proposals, and developed a plan for implementation and impact measurement.

The need for a Hub for Juvenile Justice Services is supported by stark Philadelphia Police Department data on the detention of juveniles after they have been arrested. In 2017, 2,233 youth were held in police districts or other police facilities following arrest. During this time, these young people were not assessed for mental health and other social service needs. They were held in cells designed to hold adults in custody, not for children who are very likely to have experienced significant trauma already. The Bloomberg-designed testing phase allowed the City to concretely test aspects of this new idea. Officials gained insights into how to implement the Hub, and track progress along the way.

“In my previous roles as Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services and as Chair of the Social Services Law Group in the Philadelphia Law Department, I saw first-hand how young lives can be altered by even one interaction with the justice system,” said Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety.  “I’m convinced that the Hub will be a game changer for those youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system by ensuring that the initial interaction provides an opportunity for diversion to appropriate social service or prevention alternatives.  This benefits them, their families, and the City as a whole.”

The Hub for Juvenile Justice would pool resources from police, prosecution, the human services, probation, and other partners. The Hub would provide and allow for immediate screening, custody determinations, and access to various social service agencies and diversion programs. It will provide an earlier opportunity for children and families to get the help that they need to prevent further involvement with the justice system over the long term.

The U.S. Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg Philanthropies-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). Previous Mayors Challenge winners include São Paulo, Brazil with a program to increase farmers’ income and reduce urban sprawl; Barcelona, Spain for work to create digital trust networks that support at-risk elderly citizens; and Providence, RI, for a program to measure and reduce the “word gap” among low-income children during pivotal brain development years. For more information, visit