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Maura Losch/Axios

Bloomberg Philanthropies and John Hopkins University have established what they say is a first-of-its-kind program to educate current and future civil servants.

Why it matters: The Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation, backed by $43 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, aims to foster innovation in local government at a time when cities face myriad challenges.

Where it stands: The center, housed at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, will train mayors and city officials, conduct research on best practices for local governments, and guide students who are interested in public service careers.

  • "We are at a moment in time when the need for governments to be much more responsive, creative, agile is without precedent," James Anderson, head of government innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, tells Axios.
  • "This new center will equip them, train them, study them and help them become more creative and agile organizations."

The details: Anderson says the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation will do three primary things:

  • Help city halls "continue to raise the bar in their efforts to innovate."
  • Conduct and aggregate research on what cities can do to solve modern problems and enrich the lives of residents.
  • Show young people the benefits of public-sector careers.

The center will sponsor fellowships for city hall staffers and establish three Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships at Johns Hopkins University; research by these professors will aim to contribute to advances in urban policy and government innovation.

  • The center's first executive director is Amanda Daflos, who was L.A.'s first chief innovation officer.

What they're saying: Michael Bloomberg, the 108th mayor of NYC and founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, said in a statement: "The Center will be the first of its kind in the world, and it will help meet the enormous demand we have heard from mayors and their staffs for bold and creative new ways to tackle their most pressing challenges."

Go deeper

Mayors' top concern: mental health

Expand chart
Data: Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The No. 1 concern of U.S. mayors about the long-term consequences of the pandemic is their residents' mental health, followed closely by the learning loss for children, a survey released this morning finds.

Why it matters: Last year, the top worry among the mayors polled annually in the Menino Survey of Mayors was financial ruin — budget shortfalls and service cuts. This year, thanks to cash infusions from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), their concerns have shifted pronouncedly.

Americans are super-sizing their holiday travel

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are rushing back into holiday travel, and many are taking even longer trips now than they did before the pandemic began.

The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.

Updated 16 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.