Home Corporate Philanthropy New Rochelle’s virtual reality city planning initiative wins $1 million grant from...

New Rochelle’s virtual reality city planning initiative wins $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies

New Rochelle is yet again a million dollar winner.

new rochelle bloomberg mayors challenge
New Rochelle touted its features last year on a sign in Times Square.

Just weeks after the city was granted $10 million in state downtown revitalization grant funding, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Oct. 29 that the city is one of nine chosen for a $1 million innovation grant.

New Rochelle is a winner of Bloomberg’s U.S. Mayors Challenge. The competition offers funds for innovative urban problem-solving.

Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities. The Mayors Challenge is part of a $200 million initiative from Bloomberg Philanthropies called the American Cities Initiative.

More than 300 cities applied for the competition, with 35 finalists named earlier this year.

New Rochelle’s project focuses on using virtual reality technologies to allow city planners and residents to visualize development plans for buildings and public spaces. The aim is to allow broader participation and comment during the review of public and private development proposals.

The city is working with IDEA New Rochelle, a public-private nonprofit partnership focused on developing a virtual reality industry in the city.

Related: IDEALab brings immersive media artists to downtown New Rochelle

After being named one of 35 finalists, the city received $100,000 from Bloomberg to fund a six-month “test and learn” phase to build out the ideas.

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson joined Bloomberg and the other eight winning mayors on stage Monday morning in Detroit, where Bloomberg announced the winners.

Here are the other winners and their projects, as described by Bloomberg:

  • Denver will work to improve air quality by installing cutting-edge air-pollution sensors around schools that will provide data to inform the city’s approach to making the air safer for all.
  • Durham, North Carolina will work to get drivers out of their cars and into alternative modes of transit by incentivizing behavior change, for example with prizes.
  • Fort Collins, Colorado will work to make housing safer and more energy efficient for low-income renters by offering landlords a creative mix of low-cost financing, simplified underwriting, and pre-screened contractors.
  • Georgetown, Texas will become the first energy-independent community in the country by partnering with residents to install solar panels and battery storage at their homes.
  • Huntington, West Virginia will support first responders on the front line of the opioid crisis by embedding mental health care professionals within emergency response departments, ensuring that first responders are able to give the best care possible to opioid users.
  • Los Angeles will develop a new way for residents to help solve the city’s homelessness crisis by building additional units of housing on their property and renting them to Angelenos who are homeless or at risk of homelessness for an agreed upon period of time.
  • Philadelphia will work to make the justice system less traumatic for young people under 18 by creating new facilities specifically designed to address trauma and connect kids with resources rather than sending them to regular police stations.
  • South Bend, Indiana will help low-income and part-time workers with unreliable transport options commute to their jobs by partnering with ride-share companies and employers, who will help offset the cost.
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