Mayors Innovate—and Cities Benefit

In partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Quantified Ventures sponsored the Mayors Innovation Project gathering in late January, which brought dozens of mayors and representatives from mayors’ offices around the country together in our nation’s capital to share ideas and best practices on policy, prosperity, sustainability, safety, and more.

We were there to share with this influential group our work on Environmental Impact Bonds, including a project we are working on with CBF to offer pro bono support implementing this model with municipalities working on stormwater initiatives across the Chesapeake watershed. We are excited about the potential for Environmental Impact Bonds to spur engagement between municipalities and a new class of investors, connect financing with performance outcomes, open access to a new source of capital, and, more importantly to help protect water sources and the communities who rely on them.

While we were excited by the enthusiasm expressed for Environmental Impact Bonds, it was also great to gain insight from this group of leaders. Some specific takeaways from the gathering:

  1. Great minds, great ideas: The gathering welcomed a mix of newly elected leaders bringing fresh energy and longer-term mayors sharing their experience and wisdom. Almost all said they were challenged by a lack of capital to implement critical programs—federal funding isn’t enough, and doesn’t always offer the flexibility needed to innovate; in short, new sources of funding are sorely needed. Despite this challenge, many cities are still finding ways to be creative and make an impact. We were particularly impressed with recent transportation and stormwater related initiatives, such as bike share programs and green infrastructure.

  2. Knowledge Sharing: The power of peer learning was on display at this gathering, providing a great outlet for mayors to network with and learn from each other. Taking a short break to leave their cities and spend time with peers proved to be a good investment too; many participated in pitch sessions, where they presented ideas and initiatives—many around technology and community—which seemed to spark both friendly competition as well as ideas for others to explore back home.

  3. People Matter: The agenda was heavily focused on the needs of citizens and communities, including voting rights, welcoming immigrants, making life easier for bike commuters, and fostering healthy dialogue among residents and leadership. It was clear that those in attendance were carrying the proverbial water for their communities back home, and looking for ways to creatively and effectively address both old and new(er) challenges.

We continue to feel energized by the people we met at the Mayors Innovation Project and optimistic about the role of mayors in developing healthier, more resilient communities. We stand ready to work with mayors and other government leaders to help them tap into impact capital.


On March 6, join Quantified Ventures and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for a free webinar on how Environmental Impact Bonds can help Virginia watershed municipalities finance stormwater management and other resilience projects. Register today.

Eric Letsinger