Bringing Members and Partners Together

The NLC Capstone Challenge Series is a pilot 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 six month program, NLC will act as a convener and thought partner, while this series will be driven by nine of our corporate partners bringing innovative solutions to the table. Members will be identifying real issues in their cities and matched with a corporate partner to work together on a project that will benefit the municipality. At the end of the program, the most innovative and impactful project will be recognized with an award.

Program Details

Project Opportunities

Partners have submitted project ideas based on their expertise and history working with cities. View the full list of projects available below.

On the application, you can rank the below project ideas with 1 indicating the project that you would most like to participate in. Only rank those that you are interested in, and do not assign a ranking to those that you do not want to participate in. For your top three projects, you will need to submit additional information about the team that would be working on the project.


Automate and market community access to city services

This project is ideal for a city which already licenses Accela for its licensing, permitting, code enforcement, environmental health, or other use. Using your Accela platform, build and market to residents and businesses a new automated workflow for your city services. These workflows can help your municipality enhance equitable access to housing, healthful food, clean water, clean air, technology, knowledge, legal services, transportation, or other areas. Accela will work with the city leadership to select an existing or new needed city service, such as registering eligible vaccine recipients or managing assistance requests (housing, Wi-Fi hotspots, vaccine transportation, etc.) Accela will configure and implement the software, build a marketing campaign around the service, and deliver the marketing collateral to the city to execute the campaign.

*Municipality must be an existing Accela Core or Civic Platform customer to participate in this project.


Toolkit for the future of retail in cities

Retail is an important pillar of communities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses and consumers to operate online as well as in traditional retail environments. Amazon will work with your city to dive into the Future of Retail in cities and create a toolkit for how cities can support retail businesses in this new reality. This toolkit will seek to answer the question: what does a seller need to be successful in the Future of Retail and how can cities support them? It may delve into common regulatory questions cities may face that can help remove barriers for sellers, explore how e-commerce can be a platform for cities to explore their own commitments to equity and inclusion, and utilize case studies or testimonials from sellers who have had success in finding support from their local governments. This toolkit will complement the findings in NLC’s Future of Retail report that will be released this year.


Virtual reality (VR) law enforcement training

Work with Axon to implement virtual reality (VR) training for law enforcement officers so they can better respond to a variety of crisis situations. The VR training platform is new technology that Axon is launching nationwide this summer as a pilot. It features two core offerings, Community Engagement Training and Simulator Training. Scenarios developed with experts emphasize critical thinking skills, empathy, de-escalation, and community-focused outcomes and help drive retention to better prepare law enforcement officers. These scenarios range from responding to crisis calls involving the mentally ill, to intervening with a fellow officer who may be unnecessarily escalating a situation. Axon will work directly with you and your law enforcement agency to establish a VR training pilot program which will empower officers to respond with greater confidence to situations they may face in the field. They will also work with you to develop a resource that can be shared with all municipalities about best practices for centering equity in law enforcement training practices.

enterprise holdings

Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure

In preparation for the rapidly approaching production of more and more plug-in electric vehicles in the United States, Enterprise Holdings will study the infrastructure needs to support the usage of these vehicles in several communities across the United States. The output of this project would be a framework and toolkit that cities may use to determine their own needs in terms of upgrades to the electric grid and number of electric vehicle chargers. Issues of transportation equity and access for underserved communities will be explored as well.


Open and transparent policing

Partner with Esri to develop resources to support open and transparent policing in your community. Esri technology supports community policing initiatives in powerful ways. Police can now provide information to citizens with an array of maps and apps that leverage the agency’s existing GIS investment. ArcGIS can support a data strategy to increase transparency and promote community policing programs with open data and public records, open analysis, and citizen outreach. Law enforcement agencies can work with citizens to reduce and prevent crime and public safety risks. Esri will work with you to determine your needs and use these tools to build a customized solution for your community.

Police transparency through budget data

Esri is working with the NAACP and Racial Equity Anchor Institutions on a survey targeting 370 police agencies across the country to better inform stakeholders at the local, state and federal level how law enforcement agencies are budgeted and how the money is spent. Work with Esri to implement this survey with your police department, gather critical data related to police budgeting, and build maps, tools, and dashboards to analyze and utilize this data for equity and crime reduction efforts. You would also be part of a larger nationwide effort to encourage police data transparency.

Broadband availability in your city

Broadband coverage is the new critical infrastructure. There is neither economic development, personal economic advancement, nor can there be social equity, without access to the Internet. The Esri team will work with your city to develop an app that you can put out to your residents to test broadband speed and get data on broadband capabilities across the municipality. They will then be able to analyze that data and provide recommendations on equity, reach, and needed additional investment.


Guidance for cities on addressing and replacing lead service lines

Aging water infrastructure is a critical issue across the United States. With growing concerns and calls to action to address private lead service lines, HomeServe will partner with a city that has replaced these lines and develop guidance on best practices to address and replace lead service lines. As funding becomes available from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan, and as regulations such as the EPA’s lead and copper rule evolve, this guidance will be key for municipalities that are thinking about this complicated but critical issue.


Public input processes

Resident input is critical for municipal budgeting, planning, and transportation services but with competing time commitments, safety considerations due to COVID-19, and other challenges, cities struggle to get public input. Using Polco’s platform and tools such as surveys, polls, and live polling, Polco will assist the city in assessing their current input process and designing a new program of public input. The city can use the results to inform decision-making, as well as to document how American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding is used by the city for those projects. This would also help the city build a standing panel of residents that they can engage for input in the future. Polco is able to develop public input processes for a comprehensive plan, municipal budget priorities, or transportation services, and they will work with you to determine which is the best fit once you have been matched.

Tyler technologies

Third-Party Data for Economic Recovery

As state and local government leaders look to lead their communities to recovery, they must have timely, actionable intelligence on the drivers of business viability. Third-party, granular, consumer and business revenue data can provide the missing link to help local leaders target vulnerable industries that need support and keep communities open for business. Tyler Tech will work with local leaders to help identify third-party data providers that are relevant to your community and determine how to leverage that data with internal and CDC data to develop strategic plans that inform long-term economic recovery efforts.

Data playbook on the health of your organization

Local leaders need to easily understand and monitor the health, performance, and service level of their local government. However, these insights are not always easily accessible and oftentimes lack key information for proactive decision-making. This project will look at ERP, community development, and other mission-critical data sources to determine how to combine alerting and forecasting capabilities in a user-friendly dashboard so that users are notified when a goal is projected to go off track — not when a threshold is breached. These early warning capabilities can significantly change the efficiency and precision of local government policymaking and public service delivery. Work with Tyler Tech to look at the health of your local government as a whole, or specific departments or agencies.

Cybersecurity culture best practices

In the current cyber threat environment, organizations must be vigilant. Vigilance begins with preparation. Being prepared starts with being aware. To be successful, you need to develop cybersecurity awareness throughout your entire organization, which leads to organizational practices that support the secure execution of your business strategy. You need to create a culture of cybersecurity. This project will focus on developing a five-step cybersecurity culture to advance security efforts that ensure both a top-down and bottom-up approach to ownership of cybersecurity in local government.


Removing transportation as a barrier to vaccines

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout progresses across the country, there are still millions of Americans who have not been vaccinated – often because they do not have easy access to the vaccine. Uber will work with selected cities to help ensure that those most in need can get to and from their vaccination appointment(s) easily. They will also create a case study with best practices for innovative public-private partnerships to support public health.

Important Dates

  • May 21, 2021
    Applications due at 5:00 PM EST
  • Late May
    Notifications of Acceptance sent to members that applied  
  • June 9, 2021
    Participating members will join us for the Kick-off Event from 3:00 – 5:00 PM EST  
  • Late 2021*
    Join us for our Culminating Event where participating member cities and their partners will showcase their projects. The best project will be recognized with an award.
    *We are still determining whether the culminating event will be at City Summit 2021, which is in Salt Lake City, UT from November 17-20.

Participant Requirements

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. 
  • Commit to full participation in the program, including monthly working group meetings.
  • Provide feedback to NLC staff throughout the process 

There is no cost to the municipality to participate in this program.

Submit your application

Applications for the Capstone Challenge Series are due May 21, 2021 at 5:00 PM EST. This initiative is open to NLC members only.


Who are the NLC Capstone and Enterprise Partners?

Learn more about our partners here.

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.  

What criteria will be used to judge the projects for the award? 

We are still determining what exact criteria will be used, but we are looking for projects that solve a real member need and are innovative and relevant. The award will likely be determined by a panel of members, partners, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the field. 

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