Lafayette vying for mayor’s grant

Lafayette is in the running for a $5 million award in a competition sponsored by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation that aims to encourage government to explore new ideas to improve the lives of residents.

Lafayette is one of 20 cities selected out of 305 that entered the contest and is the only city in Louisiana to make the cut in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.

The winner of the $5 million grand prize will be announced next year, along with four additional $1 million awards.

Lafayette is competing with the idea of using games to spur greater civic engagement, said Carlee Alm-LaBar, who is with City-Parish President Joey Durel’s office.

An Internet-based game, for instance, might make it more interesting to keep better track of the key issues at city hall, or another game might bring together local volunteers and donors interested in similar projects, such as bike paths, according to a submission by Lafayette for the contest.

The details of how those games might work are expected to be developed later this month when four representatives from Lafayette travel to New York for an “idea camp,” Alm-LaBar said.

She said the first phase of the competition involved presenting a rough sketch of an idea.

The second, more specific proposal for the contest is due in January and will need to address “how you are going to do this and what are the details,” Alm-LaBar said.

Lafayette and Houston are the only two cities in the Gulf south to be named among the 20 finalists, which include Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Kenner, Houma, Shreveport and Monroe submitted applications for the contest but were not selected, according to information from Bloomberg Charities.