Bringing Members and Partners Together

The NLC Capstone Challenge Series is a program designed to connect the strengths of our Capstone and Enterprise partners with the motivated local leaders to create solutions for member needs.

In this program, member cities will be matched with corporate partners to work together on a project. This program will span eight months, kicking off in early June and culminating with an event in early 2023, where each working group will share the outcomes of their projects. The most innovative and impactful project will be recognized with an award. There is no cost to the municipality to participate in this program.

This is the second year of this program. In the 2021 inaugural cohort, eight strategic partners worked on relevant projects with seventeen member cities ranging in size from the city of Phoenix, AZ to the Village of Broadview, IL. You can read the final report with details about each project here.

NLC is a convener and thought partner of this program, but it is driven by partners bringing innovative solutions to the table and members identifying real issues in their cities. Partners have submitted project ideas based on their expertise and history working with cities, and members now have the chance to apply to participate in these projects, ranking their interest in each idea.

Applications Open

Apply by May 6, 2022 at 5:00 PM to be considered.

Program Details



  • Solve a problem for your municipality through an innovative public-private partnership
  • Build a strong and lasting partnership with a major company
  • Get pro bono support from NLC and a corporate partner for eight months
  • Gain visibility for your municipality and project through NLC and partner marketing
  • Publish case study about your project on and in annual Capstone Challenge report
  • Highlight project accomplishments by sharing outcomes with NLC Member Councils, Committees, and other groups
  • Opportunity to gain recognition with an award at the culminating event
example Projects

Example Projects

Please visit the application to see the full list of projects, but here are a few examples of the types of projects that partners have submitted:

Meeting EPA’s Lead & Copper Requirements with an Equity Lens – Esri
With direction from the Biden Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a deadline of 2024 for lead service line inventories to ensure safer drinking water for all communities. The Esri team will work with the Capstone project team to develop a repeatable solution that can assist in collecting lead pipe data and identifying at-risk homes throughout the municipality. The ultimate solution will be able to analyze the pipe data and provide priority recommendations including social equity, operational considerations, and planning criteria.

Using Data to Access and Manage Grants – mySidewalk
Through this project, mySidewalk will help city partners apply for and/or manage existing select state and federal grants by making it easier for them to access and use community data. As part of the project, cities will gain access to thousands of data indicators, get coaching from experts on using data for grants, and curate key data for grant applications and reports.

Pilot Homelessness Advisory Services – Pallet
Through this program, Pallet will do an assessment of your current services, funding streams, property availability and land utilization, and provide recommendations to address the issues around homelessness in your city.

2023 Short-Term Rental Management & Compliance – Airbnb
In this project, Airbnb will work with cities to understand their needs for properly managing short-term rentals by using their platform in their communities. The goal of this project would be to collaborate with cities on the next wave of tools and systems for 2023 to improve the short-term rental experience in their community.



To participate in this program, municipalities must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an NLC Member
  • Designate one point of contact within your municipality staff for each project you are interested in. This person will lead the project from the member side and work closely with the corporate partner and NLC staff.
  • Submit a letter of support from the Mayor or Chief Executive of your municipality.
  • Commit to full participation in the program. This includes:
    • Kick-off event
    • At least once-monthly meetings with working groups from June to early 2023
    • 8 hours+ of additional time each month working on the project
    • Virtual or in-person culminating event in early 2023
  • Engage with NLC staff and partners before, during and after the program.
  • Provide feedback to NLC staff throughout the process.


  • Applications Due – May 6th at 5:00 PM ET
  • Interviews and Group Matching – Mid-May
  • Announcement and first group meetings – Late May
  • Virtual Kick-off Event – First week of June
  • Monthly Working Group Meetings – June 2022 through January 2023
  • Culminating Event – Early 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is there a cost to participate in this program? No, there is no cost to member cities to participate in the program. Partners have committed to completing these projects pro bono.
  2. What is the expected time commitment to participate? We anticipate that the time commitment will be around 8-10 hours per month from June 2022 through February 2023. Depending on the scope of the project, it may be slightly more or less than that, but this is not a full-time commitment. We ask that the point of contact attend the kick-off event in June and final event in early 2023.
  3. If we are interested in a project but it doesn’t quite fit our municipality, can we apply for the project and workshop it with the partner if we are selected? If the project could fit your municipality with only minor changes, please apply and you can collaborate with the partner to workshop and tweak the idea as needed. If major changes would need to be made, please reach out to NLC before applying to discuss whether this project would be feasible for your municipality.
  4. What will the working groups look like? Working groups will be made up of one partner company, one to three member cities, and an NLC staff facilitator. The partner company and member city or cities will be asked to designate one person each as their lead, but they are welcome to include other team members in the working group as well.
  5. What is the culminating event and when will it be? The culminating event will likely be held virtually in February 2023. This event is a chance for working groups to showcase their projects, and the best projects will be recognized with an award.
  6. What criteria will be used to judge the projects for the award? The award will be given to the projects that are the most innovative and impactful. This is determined by a panel of members, partners, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the field.

If you have additional questions about the Capstone Challenge Series, please click here to reach out to our representative.

More questions about requirements or participation? Click here to reach out to our representative.