Bringing Members and Partners Together

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

Now in its fourth year, this program matches NLC member cities with NLC strategic partners to collaborate on a project to address a challenge in the respective city. This program spans six months, kicking off in early June and culminating with an event in early 2025, 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.  

In previous Capstone Challenge cohorts, strategic partners collaborated on projects with cities of diverse sizes, ranging from the City of Phoenix, AZ, to the Village of Broadview, IL. The topics covered everything from homelessness to resident engagement to virtual reality law enforcement training. You may reference the 2021, 2022 and 2023 final reports for insight into past projects.  

While NLC is a convener and thought partner of this program, it is driven by NLC’s strategic partners, who bring innovative solutions to the table and member cities that identify real issues in their communities. Partners have submitted project ideas based on their expertise and experience working with cities, and members now have the chance to apply to participate in these projects, ranking their interest in each idea.

Applications for this year’s cohort closed on April 26 at 5:00 PM ET. Please reach out to Brandon Natsuhara with questions.  

Program Details

Projects and Participants

Projects and Participants

Advance Road Safety in your City – GM Future Roads; Easton, PA; Redmond, WA

In this project, the selected cities will partner with General Motors Future Roads to advance road safety in their community, through the use of Safety View, a tool built in a joint collaboration between GM Future Roads and INRIX. The tool allows cities to view areas of concern in their municipality with contextual, layered data sets, providing users with the ability to quickly assess factors that impact safety for drivers and vulnerable road users in their community. GM Future Roads will work with the city to understand their needs in terms of road safety – whether it is Vision Zero planning, specific initiatives for Complete Streets, Safe Streets for all planning support, creating safe bicycle paths, identifying problem intersections, etc. They will provide data, training, and analysis to help the city complete its road safety project and help it to achieve its goals.

Understand and Address the Impacts of Redlining on Health – City Health Dashboard; Charlottesville, VA; Rochester, NY

In this project, City Health Dashboard will work with cities that have dealt with historic redlining to understand how it impacts modern-day health and economic disparities. The City Health Dashboard provides actionable measures of health and its economic and environmental drivers, all at the city and neighborhood level, to support cities in taking data-driven action. The 6-month project will consist of a series of collaborative mapping and consultation discussions, combining the Dashboard’s mapping and data expertise with the city representatives’ collective local knowledge. The goal is help cities integrate historic redlining maps into their equity planning processes and create action plans for impactful and lasting local change for displaced populations and disinvested neighborhoods.

Build a Strategic Equity Plan for Your City – Esri; Chula Vista, CA; Takoma Park, MD; Tucson, AZ

We all want to live in a more equitable world. But what does that mean in practice with budgets to abide by, constituents to listen to, and limited time and resources? How do city leaders operationalize the thoughts and data they’ve collected to make a more equitable city? How do they make equity part of the city’s day-to-day functions and business processes? Through this Capstone Project, selected cities will work with Esri to develop a strategic equity plan by understanding their
community’s equity needs, building location into their equity strategy, operationalizing their work and findings, and measuring impact in real-time. A strategic equity plan that includes GIS helps establish a city-wide strategy for achieving equity rather than relying on ad hoc, project-by-project or department-by-department results. Strategic equity plans built with location in mind allow cities to understand their community’s needs better, identify opportunities to intervene and develop solutions that enact real change, and foster community involvement. As an end result, Esri will build a guidebook to assist all large and small cities as they build and update their strategic plans.

Build Dashboards to Inform Affordable Housing Policies – Accela; Walnut Creek, CA

In collaboration with the selected city, the Accela team will design and build new dashboards to monitor and inform Affordable Housing policies. Depending on the specific policies that the city wants to focus on, the project team would put key data into a visual dashboard to identify trends, recognize outliers, and track key performance indicators. Through these insights, the city would validate resource allocations or identify areas that need additional attention to achieve the city’s strategic goals on affordable housing. For example, the project team could incorporate existing initiatives such as ADUs/Infill grants to isolate those programs’ contributions to the city’s larger goals.

This Capstone Project is ideal for a city that uses Accela software in a Software as a Service (SaaS) configuration.