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 are matched with corporate partners to work together on a project. This program spans 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. Please click “Projects and Participants” below to learn more about the projects this year. 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.

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
Projects and Participants

Projects and Participants

Discovering Neighborhood Stabilization Solutions – Esri; Jamestown, NY
Cities and towns across the country are dealing with vacant properties, blight, abandonment, and code violations. This problem has only gotten worse after the COVID-19 pandemic created financial distress for many residents and small businesses. The Esri team is working with Jamestown, NY to implement neighborhood stabilization solutions that can assist city leaders in identifying property conditions, addressing code violations or blight, and integrating citizen engagement to encourage participation in ensuring that Jamestown is a safe and healthy community for all residents..

Using Data to Access and Manage Grants – mySidewalk; Brighton, CO; Tampa, FL
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; Huntington, WV; Northglenn, CO
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.

Foreclosure Registration & Tracker Accela; Louisville, KY

Property foreclosures are legal proceedings through which lenders and lienholders attempt to recover amounts owed by forcing owners to sell the property. During the long and complicated foreclosure proceedings, cities monitor the property for code violations, safety, and other concerns. Since the parties and their relationship to the property are in flux, communications can be ineffective. Accela and Louisville will build a public-facing web portal through which lenders and lienholders will register properties as they enter foreclosure proceedings. This Registry will become a central point of reference for city staff, property owners, lenders, and lienholders throughout the foreclosure process, saving the city time and money.

Advancing Equity and Engagement through SMS Integration with 311 – Bitwise Industries; Dearborn, MI

Bitwise Industries will design a citizen-centric, multilingual-capable solution for SMS-oriented engagement with the partner city’s 311 service. This solution will advance the city’s responsiveness and user satisfaction goals. The solution will make the city an effective conduit for automated information and efficient service request triage to citizens at all levels of digital literacy. Bitwise’s consultants and product teams will assist the partner city in leveraging a conversational AI engine to route service requests and inquiries sent via SMS. This solution will react to inbound SMS messages with keyword-customized answers and deep-linking to focus citizen engagement, and efficiently route citizen-requests to appropriate city resolver groups. To ensure that citizens are introduced to the solution and improve their adoption and access to services and assistance, Bitwise Industries will design a digital marketing campaign to drive traffic to automated intake mechanisms with a goal of reducing the city’s customer service expenses. This project is ideal for a mid-sized city with a robust community website and IT development and marketing teams that are excited to participate.

Share the Table: Community Dialogue about Technology in Policing – Axon; Little Rock, AR; Columbus, OH

This project aims to bring together public safety agencies, community members, and local leaders in a series of Share the Table conversations to build mutual understanding and education around the use of technology in policing. Community members and officers will delve into case studies, relevant research, participate in hands-on activities, and engage in facilitated group discussions. Share the Table focuses on extending education on body worn cameras, TASER CEW devices, and other Axon public safety technologies to ensure that all stakeholders have access to information on the technology used in their communities. All Share the Table programs include engagement surveys and an after-action report to collect feedback from participants on their experience at Share the Table as well as their feelings towards the discussed technologies. Axon hopes to partner with a local law enforcement agency that is excited to actively engage with their communities around the introduction of new technology in policing. The organization would be expected to co-host 2 to 3 community engagement events over the course of 6 months. The goal of this project is to enhance understanding and connections between public leaders, public safety agencies and the communities they serve.



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.