Students help land Louisville on exclusive list with London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro

Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 4:48 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 6:52 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville is one of 50 cities in the running for a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies for work done by students from Central High School and Bellarmine University. Titled “The Butterfly Project” after Central’s most famous alum, Muhammad Ali, students put their computer skills to work searching databases and finding evidence of racism.

“It really opened my eyes to how things are and how systemic it is,” Central High School senior Trenton Hogan said.

The subjects include jobs, justice, education, health, and housing. What the students found surprised them.

“It made me realize that this affects me as well,” Central High School senior Ta’mia Malone said. “Because when you look at it you might be like, ‘Oh that could never happen to me,’ and you realize, yes it can.”

Louisville was selected with cities around the world working on a variety of urban problems. The list includes London, Paris, Cape Town, and Rio de Janeiro.

“It stretches all the way back and touches so many things,” Hogan said about systemic inequities. “Because health outcomes can be affected by your income, your social-economic status, and where you even live.”

King said the results of her work gathering data made her feel empowered.

“There’s more to just, like, holding a sign, just standing outside, or like typing on a computer just collecting numbers,” she said. “You’re still supporting a cause.”

For the next five months, Louisville and the 50 finalist cities will fine-tune their ideas using experts working with Bloomberg Philanthropies. Fifteen of those cities will be awarded $1 million and what is described as “robust multi-year technical assistance” to put their ideas to work.

“It’s not just the money that’s so important to us as part of this Mayors Challenge,” Grace Simrall, the Louisville Metro chief of civic innovation and technology, said. “It’s also the coaching resources and the global platform of Bloomberg Philanthropy to be able to elevate this work and make sure that it actually scales it and is implemented.”

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