Collaborative Innovation System

USDN’s programs mobilize members to pursue collaborative projects that address urgent challenges and timely opportunities facing multiple cities.

This allows USDN to assess which innovation areas are the most strategically important and yield the most effective outcomes. USDN aggregates data from these projects to generate a valuable picture of the current urban sustainability innovation market. Lessons and recommendations from the funds' early years are captured in the report, The State of Innovation in Urban Sustainability (2013).

What began with a $100,000 collaboration fund in 2010 has evolved into three funds, supported by national and local funders. Since then these three funds have granted over $6.6 million for over 100 projects that drive innovation, scaling, and adoption of urban sustainability practices. These are high-leverage small-grants, with project size averaging less than $50,000.

The USDN Innovation Fund supports collaborations of four or more member communities to develop innovations that address city-identified problems or opportunities in sustainability or scale-up proven innovations.

The CNCA Innovation Fund supports collaborations among international cities committed to achieving aggressive long-term carbon reduction goals.  Read more about CNCA.

The Partners for Places Fund, operated by The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, supports collaborations between a city and a local funder to build stronger relationships across sectors and support adoption of innovations in urban sustainability. Read more about P4P in 2015.

The USDN Peer Learning Exchange Fund supports learning exchanges between two or more member communities to accelerate the spread of innovative practices.

Learn more about USDN collaborative projects »