FACT SHEET: President Obama Hosts Over 250 Mayors to Strengthen Partnerships and Grow the Economy
President Obama today will host over 250 bipartisan Mayors at the White House during their annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. During their visit to the White House this evening, the President will thank the Mayors for their steadfast partnerships over the past seven years and will outline the Administration’s priorities for cities across the country in the year ahead. The convening will also focus on the economic progress that each city has made since the President took office.
Throughout the week, senior White House officials and members of the President’s Cabinet participated in plenary sessions and panel discussions on priority issues, including: trade, manufacturing, veteran homelessness, transportation, paid leave, climate change, affordable health care, workforce development, education, My Brother’s Keeper and immigration. Today at the White House, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and senior White House officials will interact with Mayors in a panel discussion on criminal justice reform.
This morning, First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors to discuss the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. In 2010, the Administration set the goal of preventing and ending homelessness among veterans. Through the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, launched in 2014 by First Lady Michelle Obama, more than 800 mayors and other state and local leaders across the country have committed to marshal federal, local, and non-profit efforts to end veteran homelessness in their communities.
Below are some of the ways Mayors are helping to make President Obama’s agenda a reality in cities across the country.
Criminal Justice Reform and Community Policing: Providing a Second Chance and Building Collaborative Relations Between Law Enforcement And Communities
The President has repeatedly highlighted the need for meaningful juvenile and criminal justice reform in the United States that makes our system, fairer, smarter and more cost-effective while keeping the American people safe and secure, and has been joined in that call by leading mayors and local elected officials. The Administration is working with communities across the United States on reforms to address the vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration that traps too many Americans and on putting into practice the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Task Force, which set out a blueprint for strategies to promote effective crime reduction while building public trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
- Over 40 local jurisdictions attended the White House Community Policing Convening in July 2015.
- In November 2015, the U.S. Conference of Mayors sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass a criminal justice reform bill.
- Since the launch of the Police Data Initiative (PDI) in May, five additional agencies have joined PDI: Denver, Spokane, Orlando, Tucson, and Fayetteville—bringing the total number of agencies to 26, with more than 40 data sets released.
- In November, Newark, NJ Mayor Baraka (D) and Shelby County, TN Mayor Luttrell (R) co-authored an op-ed supporting criminal justice reform with a focus on re-entry.
- In November, five cities, including Memphis, TN and New Orleans, LA took on the TechHire Initiative by expanding tech training and jobs for individuals with criminal records.
Advanced Manufacturing and Tech Innovation: Paving The Way For Jobs And Skills Of The Future
Mayors are creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to make the next world-changing product, and for students interested in hands-on engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Through the Mayor’s Maker Challenge over 100 cities including Columbus, OH, Scottsdale, AZ, Rockford, IL, and South Bend, IN are changing the landscape of American manufacturing in small towns and big cities. Last March the President announced his TechHire initiative, which aims to train Americans with 21st century skills. Since that time 31 new cities, states, and rural communities with over 150,000 open tech jobs, and 500 employer partners, have joined the President to help give all Americans who work hard a fair shot.
- In St Louis, MO a network of over 150 employers in St. Louis’ rapidly expanding innovation ecosystem will build on a successful MasterCard pilot to partner with local non-profit Launchcode to build the skills of women and underrepresented minorities for tech jobs.
- Anderson, IN, in collaboration with Purdue University and the Flagship Enterprise Center, is building a 90,000 square foot facility – to be called the Purdue Polytechnic Institute – that will include a 12,000 square foot maker space and a 35,000 square foot incubator.
Trans-Pacific Partnership: Leveling The Playing Field For American Workers
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a new type of tough trade agreement that will put American workers first by including the strongest enforceable labor standards of any trade agreement in history, including in areas like child and forced labor and wages. TPP levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses, leading to more Made-in-America exports and more higher-paying American jobs here at home. Mayors have been on the frontlines, advocating for TPP since they are closest to the innovation and growth that TPP can spur.
- In June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution in support of both Trade Promotion Authority and a Trans Pacific Partnership deal that contains enforceable labor and environmental standards, a uniform tariff system, transparency, and protection of intellectual property rights. Following the resolution’s passage at the conference, the U.S. Conference of Mayors wrote a letter to congressional leadership urging passage of Trade Promotion Authority, with over 100 signatures from mayors across the U.S.
- In October, a group of Mayors toured a manufacturing facility in downtown Atlanta and called on negotiators to complete a TPP deal before leaving the city. Atlanta, GA Mayor Kasim Reed, who hosted the event and chairs USCM’s Transportation and Communications Committee, was joined by United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, Little Rock, AR Mayor Mark Stodola, Chair of the Conference’s Exports and Ports Task Force, Tampa, FL Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Columbia, SC Mayor Steven Benjamin. Upon completion of the trade negotiations in October the U.S. Conference of Mayors reaffirmed their support for TPP.
- Across the county, mayors have been touring small businesses in their cities, speaking with the media, and writing op-eds explaining exactly why they believe TPP benefits the people in their city. Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, LA hosted Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Hamilton for a small business roundtable at a local economic development group. Mayor Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, WA hosted Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker for a small business tour, in addition to taking every opportunity to promote the President’s trade agenda. Mayor Chris Cabaldon of West Sacramento, CA testified before the International Trade Centre on behalf of the U.S. Conference of mayors and has spoken in regional press outlets about the benefits to his city and the region. Countless other mayors have written op-eds, toured businesses, and spoken to media about the benefits of TPP.
Education: Furthering The President’s Early Childhood and Community College Education Agenda
Since the President laid out his proposal to expand early childhood education in his 2013 State of the Union Address, cities have taken significant steps to expand high-quality preschool in their communities. Cities like Chicago, IL and Philadelphia, PA have amplified the President’s free community college proposal and advanced free community college programs.
- In March, over 50 mayors signed a letter to Congress supporting the President’s America’s College Promise proposal.
- Since the President’s announcement on free community college last January, seven communities have announced their own free community college programs.
Veterans Homelessness: Marshaling Efforts To End Homelessness For Our Veterans
Through the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, local leaders across the country are ending Veteran homelessness in their communities. Since First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Mayors Challenge on June 4, 2014, more than 684 mayors have stepped up to the challenge.
- Just six months after the announcement of the Mayors’ Challenge, three major American cities – Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and New Orleans – had eliminated Veteran homelessness.
- Since the First Lady’s announcement, 19 communities and the Commonwealth of Virginia have effectively ended Veteran homelessness.
- In November, Virginia was announced as the first state to end veteran homelessness, helping 1,432 homeless veterans in the past year. When Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim signed up for the challenge, an estimated 50,000 veterans were homeless on any given night in Norfolk. By November 11, 2015, the city had met their goal to effectively end veteran homelessness.
Minimum Wage and The Working Families Agenda: Expanding Opportunity For Middle Class Families
Since the President’s 2013 State of the Union Address, about 40 local jurisdictions have taken action to raise wages. Twenty-six cities and counties have approved city-wide increases in their minimum wages for both public and private employees. Fourteen other cities and counties including Palo Alto, CA, New Orleans, LA, Portland, OR and Syracuse, NY raised wages for their city/county workers or contractors.
- More than 65 mayors signed a letter from the U.S. Conference of Mayors Cities of Opportunity Task Force urging Congress to raise the minimum wage.
- Since President’s 2014 State of the Union Address, 21 cities and counties have taken action on paid sick leave, and 19 cities and counties have taken action on paid family leave.
Climate and Energy: Launching New Programs and Policies On Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
- 122 U.S. cities have signed the Compact of Mayors, committing to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, enhance city resilience to climate change and track their progress transparently.
- Cities like Little Rock, AR, Portland, ME, Dearborn, MI, St. Petersburg, FL, Flint, MI and San Diego, CA have partnered on the Better Buildings Initiative to make substantial improvements to the energy efficiency of buildings and lighting to save money and replace over 500,000 lighting fixtures from May 2014 to May 2016.
- A coalition of 18 states, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities and a number of individual cities has joined the legal defense of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan as intervenors and amicus.
- In December 2014, the White House announced 16 Climate Action Champions, selected for their leadership in climate mitigation and adaptation, and their ability to demonstrate successful examples of climate action for other communities across the United States. The Champions included Boston, Dubuque, Knoxville, Minneapolis, Montpelier, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle, and have been receiving targeted federal support to accelerate greenhouse gas emission reductions and climate resilience.
- Today, the White House announced 10 Communities participating in the Resilience AmeriCorps Program: Anchorage, Boulder, Chicago, El Paso, Minot, New Orleans, Norfolk (VA), Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Tulsa. These cities will have the opportunity to opt into the Climate Action Champions program. In keeping with the Climate Action Champions’ mission, designated communities will exemplify how underserved areas can work with the Federal government and strategic partners to develop plans for becoming more resilient to extreme weather events, increase civic engagement and community resilience, and become champions of environmental leadership for other under-served communities nationally.
Transportation and Infrastructure: Expanding Ladders of Opportunity Through Infrastructure
The President will continue to act when he can to promote job growth in the transportation sector and put more Americans back to work repairing and modernizing our roads, bridges, railways, and transit systems.
- In December, the President signed the 5-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which reauthorizes the Highway Trust Fund through 2020, reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank through 2019 and improves the Federal permit review process for major infrastructure projects.
- Since 2009, the Department of Transportation has awarded 381 TIGER projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Cities across the country have been able to break ground on projects to make their communities more livable and sustainable, including the Bronx River Greenway Project and the Phoenix Grand Canal Bike and Pedestrian Improvements Projects.
- In January 2015, Secretary Foxx challenged city leaders to raise the bar for bicyclist and pedestrian safety by joining a year-long “Mayors' Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets” effort. Today, over 240 cities have signed on to the challenge and are taking significant action to improve safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities over the next year.
- Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Washington, D.C.’s Vision Zero Initiative to eliminate transportation-related fatalities.
Smart Cities: Launching The Metrolab Network and The Smart City Challenge
In September 2015, the Administration launched the Smart Cities Initiative to help communities leverage technology to tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate and improving the delivery of city services. As part of that initiative, over 25 mayors have formed the MetroLab Network in collaboration with their local universities to harness university technical expertise to address city challenges:
- The founding members – including cities from Atlanta to Seattle and South Bend – have collectively committed to undertaking more than 60 projects over the next year, which will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of infrastructure and services in our cities and communities and increase the productivity and competitiveness of our regional economies.
- The Department of Transportation launched the Smart City Challenge, which will concentrate federal resources into one medium-sized city, selected through a nationwide competition. Up to $40 million in funding will go to one mid-sized city that puts forward bold, data-driven ideas to improve lives by making transportation safer, easier, and more reliable.
Affordable Care Act: Opening Access To Quality, Affordable Health Care For All Americans
On November 6th, the White House launched the Healthy Communities Challenge to engage key communities with large numbers or high percentages of uninsured in states across the country where strong federal, state and community collaboration can have a meaningful impact on reaching the uninsured.
Local elected officials from 20 cities and counties across the county are participating in the challenge to get their uninsured constituents covered:
- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu challenged barbers and hairstylists to connect their customers to free, in-person enrollment assistance; Kansas City Mayor Sly James recorded a PSA which will play 333 times throughout January; Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has recruited community organizations to undertake large canvasing efforts in areas with high uninsured subsidy eligible populations; and thanks to Detroit Mayor Duggan, the City of Detroit sent out an ACA mailer with the water utility bills that was mailed to over 200,000 households.
My Brother’s Keeper: Expanding Opportunity For All Youth
In 2014, the President launched the MBK Community Challenge, an effort to encourage communities to implement their own coherent cradle-to-college and career strategy aimed at improving life outcomes for all young people. More than 230 communities in 49 states have taken the challenge and over 130 communities have hosted local action summits.
- Over 50 communities have completed their local action plans
- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh launched the Mayor’s Mentoring Movement, an initiative in collaboration with Mass Mentoring Partnership to recruit 1,000 new caring adult mentors for Boston’s youth. The effort will offer new empowering relationships for boys and girls ages 7 through 18
- The city of Lansing and its Mayor Virg Bernero accepted the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge as part of its “Mayor’s Young Lansing” (MY Lansing) Commission and Partnership. The Lansing Board of Water & Light is partnering with MY Lansing MBK to replicate its apprenticeship program across industries. A series of community engagement events in 2014 led to the creation of a new coalition that is working with the Lansing Police Department and regional law enforcement officials to develop strategies and solutions that are improving relationships between police and community.
Immigration: Making Progress in Communities Across the Country
Cities across the country have taken significant steps to welcome immigrants and take other important steps on immigration.
- In April, the White House launched the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign to create communities that allow all residents to thrive and advance local immigrant and refugee integration efforts. Forty-eight big and small communities from across the country have signed on to date.
- Cities also worked with the Administration to promote the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship through the Stand Stronger Citizenship Awareness Campaign in September.