Innovation Training

Innovation Training was created for cities that think outside the box to generate the best solutions for their residents. Now a program of the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins University, this year-long training opportunity helps cities learn how to adopt design-based innovation techniques that engage residents in testing, adapting, and scaling creative ideas with lasting impact.

What support do cities receive?

Selected cities will receive comprehensive, no-cost support designed to help staff develop new ideas for their chosen problem while cultivating innovation skills. Cities apply what they learn by working collaboratively within city hall and with the community to promote an equitable, inclusive approach to problem solving.

Dedicated Design Coach

Each city works with a design coach who leads a series of remote near-weekly workshops to help core teams of 10-12 employees apply the innovation approach to their problems through detailed instruction and project-based learning.

Innovation Curriculum

Cities gain access to a state-of-the-art innovation curriculum developed by Bloomberg Philanthropies that give city teams the opportunity to learn this approach through case studies, lectures, and hands-on experience.

Network of Support

Participating cities receive targeted opportunities to learn from and build relationships with other cities. Participants can also access knowledge, lessons learned, and support from a wider network of cities that have used innovation techniques to tackle challenges.

Innovation Training Milestones

Develop a deep understanding of a selected problem area

Cultivate a deep understanding of the selected problem by engaging residents and stakeholders most impacted by the problem, building trust, and promoting collaborative relationships. By the end of the program, through in-depth design research, you will have developed a set of 5-10 insights helping you better understand the root causes of your selected problem.

Curate a portfolio of ideas that will generate lasting impact

Grounded in a richer understanding of the problem, work with residents to brainstorm and co-design a portfolio of ideas that will generate lasting impact on the problem. By the end of the program, your city will have a portfolio of ideas to address your selected problem that you are excited to build out and implement.

Learn to build prototypes and test ideas with residents to gain actionable feedback

Create prototypes of solutions to high-priority problems and test them with residents to document actionable learnings that improve their ideas. By the end of the program, your city will have completed at least two rounds of prototype tests.

Generate broad buy-in for implementation

Build broad buy-in for their ideas and start identifying the support necessary to turn them into reality. By the end of the program, the cities communicate a commitment to implement one or more of the ideas from their portfolio.

Carry forward this way of working on other challenges in City Hall

Apply these new skills to at least one additional city problem. By the end of the program, you will identify another problem facing the cities to which they will apply this process.

Innovation Training Impact   

Sioux Falls - Woman Sitting on Bus Seat

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: The city was focused on improving the economic benefit of their public transportation system for both residents and the city. Facing low ridership on their bus system, the city prototyped solutions to develop a transformative on-demand transit system with a mobile application. The city allocated $200,000 for FY 2021 to run a pilot of the on-demand bus system. During Innovation Training, the team trained 72 additional staff members in innovation methodologies and launched 7 additional projects using the innovation methodologies and established an Office of Innovation and Technology.

Albany, New York: The city was focused on reducing vacant houses by combatting slum and absentee landlords who fail to care for their properties. Through the Innovation Training, the city developed a portfolio of 8 ideas, including creating a Renter's Bill of Rights to reduce the information gap between landlords and tenants. The city is currently developing legislation to mandate landlords provide the Bill of Rights and increase the frequency of rental inspections. Additionally, the team received a $1M Cities RISE grant from the state to implement ideas generated during the program. At the end of the program 100% of core team members felt the city's culture was more supportive of innovation and at least 3 additional projects were using innovation methods as a result.

Albany - two hands reviewing flashcards
Bratislava - three people peering up at multicolored sticky notes

Bratislava, Slovakia: The city was focused on increasing resident engagement in neighborhood improvement projects to build social cohesion. The city developed a suite of ideas to connect neighbors, including a new community garden program with a “Plant 10,000 Trees” initiative and an effort to revitalize abandoned buildings for community arts, meeting space, & connections, among other ideas. Beyond continued idea implementation, the team leveraged this program as a launching pad for their Innovation Team. After seeing the impact of design-based innovation, the city invested €500,000 to scale their Office of Innovation, hired 6 new innovation staff, and led 1:1 design trainings for colleagues across City Hall using the program curriculum.


Testimonials from previous participants

To have the opportunity to feel reenergized in our work in public service and to feel connected in  conversations, especially during a pandemic, was cathartic, game changing and validating at a personal and professional level. This work matters because it underscores valuing people in how we show up for our organizations and communities.” - Juliana Baldwin-Munoz, El Paso, Texas

I am incredibly grateful for this entire opportunity. I am a better innovator because of this program, as are my peers in Scottsdale. Our entire organization will benefit from the program well into the future.” - Shane Stone, Scottsdale, Arizona

It was an honour to be one of only two Canadian cities selected to participate in this training program. As a city, we strive to promote innovation in our organization and in every sphere of our community. I know that this was a transformational experience for staff. I look forward to seeing them pilot some of their solutions and to seeing the skills they’ve acquired in action to further our innovation goals. These approaches will transfer beyond this program and will help distinguish Kingston as a city and a community that embraces creativity and promotes flexibility and experimentation.”  - Mayor Bryan Paterson, Kingston, Canada

Want to hear more about Innovation Training experiences? Read reflections from  Kingston, Canada and Glendale, California.

While the application period for Innovation Training has closed, you can learn more about Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation programs and sign up to receive alerts about new opportunities.

The Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins University is pleased to continue the Innovation Training program in partnership with the Centre for Public Impact and with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.