Today, a city’s future relies upon engaged organizational leaders from across sectors with a shared agenda and a coherent voice. With more than 250 partners from over 40 cities, CEOs for Cities is a civic innovation lab and network of urban leaders and change agents from diverse sectors, including business, higher education, economic development, cultural and creative sectors, foundations and government- dedicated to building, advancing, and sustaining the next generation of great American cities
Our customers are Civic CEOs. Rather than be self-limited by our name, CEOs for Cities’ inclusive definition of CEO means not only Chief Executive Officers but also Chief Entrepreneurial Officers, Chief Education Officers, Chief Economic Officers, Chief Experience Officers, and Chief Exploration Officers. In other words, our customers are urban leaders, and we honor leadership where it happens, regardless of rank or sector.
Our theory of change is that at a time when more than half of the world lives in urban areas, strong, successful American cities are more essential than ever to a strong America. And at a time when our federal and state governments too often are dysfunctional, cities are the best scale at which to organize to tackle critical issues. Cities are big enough to make a difference but small enough to make things happen quickly and effectively.
Cities must be connected and engaged - the connective tissue that links and leverages the human, social, and physical capital of a city is the key to its success. Cities must always be thinking ahead and learning from the best ideas and practices from all sectors, leaders at all levels, and cities, regions, states, and countries throughout the world. The world is coming at us a lightning speed, so this will require constant learning, change, and adaptation.
Our value proposition is that we are a platform that serves as a connected, cross-sector, cross-generational, collaborative infrastructure for making cities better and more successful places to live and work - places where you can build your business and love your life. We area a cross-sector, cross-generational learning network that facilitates online and face to face interaction through national, regional, and city convenings; research; and the collection and communication of smart ideas and practices for making cities successful. Our learning network is a delivery mechanism for cutting edge ideas, smart practices, and lessons learned.
Our mission is to be a strong, deep, and broad global, cross-sector, cross-generational, inter-connected network that serves as a cutting edge online and face to face platform and collaborative infrastructure for making American cities more vibrant, sustainable, and economically competitive and successful, with a focus on investing in the distinctive assets of cities.
To be the premier online and face to face cross-sector, cross-generational learning network in the world for creating and sharing smart ideas to make American cities more successful.
We help cities and regions FACE (Frame, Act, Connect, & Engage) their opportunities and challenges:
City Vitals is our signature research framework. We benchmark city/regional performance in the four areas most vital to CITY success: Connections, Innovation, Talent, and Your distinctiveness. We believe that given the complex, interconnected problems that cities and regions face, it is critical to first research, frame, and organize work that puts a focusing lens on the city and region, and helps to see and understand the critical levers for city and regional success. We believe that framing is critically important, because, as Wayne Dyer has noted, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
We also believe that once the issues are framed and the levers of success are identified, it’s equally important to motivate, mobilize, focus, and accelerate action that can show demonstrable and measurable progress on the critical success levers. City Dividends is our signature action agenda. We focus our action agenda on City Dividends and Dividend Prize competitions, premised on our research and experience that measurable progress, or “moving the needle,” on targeted work reaps huge economic growth dividends for cities, and accelerates movement on important goals. City Dividends is based on what Harvard Professor Teresa Amabile calls the “progress principle”- the single most important motivator and catalyst of positive action is making progress and showing forward momentum in meaningful work.
Finally, we believe that it is important not only to frame and act but also to connect and engage. Cities must always be thinking ahead and learning from the best ideas and practices from all sectors, leaders at all levels, and cities, regions, states, and countries throughout the nation and the world. The world is coming at us at lightning speed, so this will require constant learning, change, and adaptation. As a 2012 McKinsey Global Institute report noted, “Be connected. Rather than seeing each other city as competition, building strong connections to other cities can become a collective strength…There are potentially large benefits from being able to tap into the experience of other cities.” The cities that will win in the new networked economy are those that make their boundaries porous to new ideas and talent and demonstrate the humility to understand that there is always something more to learn from someone else, somewhere else.