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Mayor Angel Taveras Wins Bloomberg Mayors Challenge for Providence Children
Image courtesy: providenceri.com/CityNews
1992 Echoing Green Fellow Mayor Angel Taveras was recently selected from over three hundred mayors across the country as the winner of Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Challenge. His innovative idea addresses the “word gap” faced by children living in underserved communities. Studies that have shown that children living on welfare hear up to one-third fewer words per hour than their peers; by the age of four they have heard thirty-two million fewer words than more fortunate children. The Mayor’s winning plan proposes using technology to track words that young children are exposed to every day, winning his city of Providence $5 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Bloomberg was inspired to create the Mayors Challenge to find and spread local solutions to national problems. The goal has been to encourage the country's mayors to identify and solve issues in their cities, so that all could learn from those insights and find ways to apply them in other contexts. Finalists were invited to an Ideas Camp to interact with top city innovators and to bolster their own proposals. Ultimately, their innovations were judged for vision, impact, implementation, and ability to spread to other cities.
A lifelong advocate for children, Mayor Tavares received his Echoing Green Fellowship nearly twenty years ago to create the Elmwood Community Center, an afterschool program and summer day camp. Later, he ran his law practice with such sustained commitment to public service that he was selected as a Rhode Island Bar Foundation Fellow in 2008, an honor given to lawyers demonstrating dedication to the welfare of the community. He was elected Mayor of Providence, RI, in 2010.
Mayor Taveras is a remarkable example of the qualities Echoing Green looks for in our Fellows—tenacity, resilience, and an ability to garner supporters. As an organization, we take a very long view, beyond any business plan, to consider whether this person will continue to drive positive social change despite any obstacles they may face. Our investments in individuals, not enterprises, make us confident that regardless of where our Fellows' careers take them, positive social change will happen.
Bringing about dramatic and lasting social change requires lifelong leadership and learning lessons along the way.
One clear way to drive change is to invest in leaders who have a direct connection to the communities they serve.