From the Editors:  The following is a press release about an important initiative by Bloomberg Philanthropies to invest in the digitalization of the Ukrainian capital’s public and  mental health services.

NEW YORK, NY & KYIV, UKRAINE – (February 16, 2024) – As the war in Ukraine enters its third year, Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced an investment in the City of Kyiv that will accelerate the digitization of public services that strengthen government delivery during wartime and address residents’ acute mental health needs.

With more than 80 percent of Kyiv residents 18 years or older surveyed by the Kyiv City Council reporting symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder, and a majority stating that the war has had a significant impact on their mental well-being, the support will increase the City’s staff capacity and technical ability to build, diversify, and scale online offerings, including new mental health programs for those affected by the ongoing conflict.

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The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ investment, which will be supported by the organization’s vast Government Innovation portfolio and global Innovation Team (i-team) program, will also help to advance Kyiv’s digital transformation efforts to digitize more city services, strengthen local government resiliency, and better citizen outcomes.

“Even under martial law, Kyiv continues to pioneer critical digital services for its citizens,” said Mayor Vitali Klitschko of Kyiv, Ukraine. “In particular, this includes the digitalization of services meeting the urgent needs of the capital's residents in terms of mental health and the city's resilience. Thanks to the strong support and assistance of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Kyiv will become an even more comfortable and safe city with a more efficient municipal governance system.”

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“Amid the most trying and tragic conditions, the City of Kyiv continues to invest in cutting-edge urban innovation,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. and 108th mayor of New York City. “At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’re glad to support Kyiv as it strengthens its digital services and works to meet residents’ most urgent needs. We look forward to more cities everywhere taking inspiration from Kyiv’s resourcefulness and resolve.”

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Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the City of Kyiv has deployed digital technologies as a lifeline to keep community members connected to critical public information and vital government resources. Digitization has significantly improved the City’s delivery of daily service needs by eliminating traditional barriers to access including cumbersome paperwork, time and transportation costs, processing delays, and by expanding multi-language access to reach many more residents.

The most notable local example is Kyiv Digital, a pioneering application first established by the City in 2017 that was adapted by Kyiv officials to include public safety features during wartime. From providing air raid alerts to identifying bomb shelter locations and available food and medical supplies, Kyiv Digital now reaches 2.7 million residents, 83 percent of Kyiv’s population, with 25 unique services.

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The new support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will enable the City of Kyiv to increase their capacity to develop more digital services, including mental health programs to help residents identify mental health challenges and connect with the necessary care. It will also create open dialogue to eliminate stigma, provide training for mental health professionals working with war-affected individuals, expand access to quality mental health centers across the city, and launch direct-to-resident supports.

While the programs will address the mental health and well-being of all city residents, they will place emphasis on reaching communities residing in areas directly affected by the conflict who require specialized care tailored to their experiences and at-risk groups, such as young people, older adults, veterans, and the caretakers and educators who aid them.

The new mental health services are expected to launch in December 2024. Public Digital, an expert organization in bolstering digital government transformation efforts, will support Bloomberg Philanthropies and the City in this work.

“Envision a city where digital access is a right, not a privilege. A city where every keystroke brings us closer, every click a step towards mutual understanding and support. This is our goal for Kyiv,” said Oleg Polovynko, Advisor to the Mayor on Digitalization for the City of Kyiv. “With the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies and their Government Innovation program, we will be able to accelerate these efforts even further.”

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“Digitization makes government more accessible on its best days and more resilient on its hardest,” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The City of Kyiv has deftly deployed digital services to maintain continuity of resident communications and services during wartime. Bloomberg Philanthropies is proud to deepen and accelerate their digital efforts, which will not only improve lives locally but serve as a beacon for cities struggling with crisis elsewhere.”

The new innovation staff, made possible through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support, will bring to the City of Kyiv individuals with expertise in UX development and IT delivery, as well as those who specialize in rapid prototyping, insight and service development and excellence, data and analytics, product and human-centered design, systems thinking, and project management and implementation. The team will be overseen by Polovynko, and Petro Olenych, Chief Digital Transformation Officer of the City of Kyiv. Both officials have drawn local praise and global attention for pioneering digital transformation—leading the development of breakthrough solutions that have served residents through war.

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“Our efforts in Kyiv have been directed towards making life in our city better and more responsive to the needs of our residents,” said Olenych. “With the robust support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, we can now further our commitment to addressing mental health, a critical aspect of our city's well-being.”

Today’s announcement builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ longstanding work to drive innovation in cities across the globe, including six digital i-teams established by the organization in Amsterdam, Bogota, Mexico City, Reykjavik, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. in 2021 and more than 20 digital i-teams incubated in European cities from Bratislava, Slovakia to Sofia, Bulgaria to Vilnius, Lithuania in 2020.

With the addition of Kyiv, the Bloomberg Philanthropies i-team program has now reached 58 cities across nine countries and four continents, representing over 55 million residents. It continues to inspire hundreds of other local governments to embrace digital and innovation systems, practices, and approaches in service of improving lives around the world.

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About Bloomberg Philanthropies:

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on creating lasting change in five key areas: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consultancy that advises cities around the world. In 2023, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3 billion.

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Comments ( 1)

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John
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To fill gaps in allied national support the Ukrainian government has run a brilliant campaign on its United24 platform to support that nations defence and related humanitarian needs. Anyone with a credit card or fund transfer capability can securely contribute to that registered charity and see their dollars make a difference within days. Weekly updates show exactly what has been raised and exactly on what it was spent.

ITs hard to get that level of transparency form most western charities claiming to be active in Ukraine.

As much as I empathize with humanitarian causes, I always contribute towards the air and sea drone related campaigns, as during a war I feel defence comes first in saving lives and preventing loss. Other causes though are indeed heart wrenching and also so important. United24 has raised over $661 Million USD in international donations to fill gaps in allied support. 



To their credit, many international celebrities actively offer their valuable time to be spokes people for various United 24 campaigns. The list is long with many well known names across the world. 



The UK's Richard Branson is one of them. I hope the other billionaires are making their time on earth count for a purpose greater than their own comfort. They could do so much good if also contributing to Ukraine like Bloomberg and Branson.

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