30 cities form the first cohort of the Urban95 Academy

Published January 20, 2022

Mayors from around the world go back to school to learn how to make their cities more child-friendly

100 city leaders from 30 cities have begun the first academic course of the Urban95 Academy, a leadership programme designed to make cities more child-friendly. Mayors, senior civil servants and other elected officials are learning together and developing strategies to make their cities better for their youngest citizens and by extension improve life for everyone.

The Urban95 Academy, at the London School of Economics launched on 10th January, with participants working together to develop and deliver creative solutions to urban challenges impacting young children and their caregivers in cities.

The Urban95 Academy, designed for municipal leaders, was developed by the Bernard van Leer Foundation and LSE Cities at the London School of Economics. The programme has attracted local governments from around the world who want to improve their cities, focusing both on early childhood development and urban design.

The first cohort of participants is made up of a diverse group of city teams representing:

Benevides, Brazil; Bratislva, Slovakia; Caruaru, Brazil; Cork, Ireland; Cuenca, Ecuador; Durres, Albania; Fortaleza, Brazil; London Borough of Islington, UK; Jundiai, Brazil; Korle Klottey, Ghana; Kurakhove, Ukraine; Leon, Mexico; Lima, Peru; Monterrey, Mexico; Monrovia, Liberia; Niteroi, Brazil; Ramallah, Palestine; Riobamba, Ecuador; Samarinda, Indonesia; San Diego, USA; Tel Aviv, Israel; Teresina, Brazil; Tirana, Albania; Torres Vedras, Portugal; Udaipur, India; Üsküdar, Turkey; Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal; London Borough of Waltham Forest, UK; Wolverhampton, UK; and Quito, Ecuador.

Cities were selected based on the strength of their applications, political commitment to the learning process and geographic diversity.


The Urban95 Academy, delivered by the LSE, one of the top social science universities in the world, is a six-week online programme designed to help leaders revaluate how successful policy is measured on a city level. The curriculum provides tools to examine and generate data around what children and their caregivers need to thrive in cities, and to put that knowledge to use improving access to public space and services.

City officials have the opportunity to connect and network with fellow participants and faculty in diverse locations through live virtual seminars and also follow curated online courses featuring original content from Urban95 Academy’s interdisciplinary knowledge partners including designers, architects, behavioural scientists, and policy experts from leading organisations such as IDTP, the Clean Air Fund, NACTO, The Brookings Institution, Princeton University’s Innovations for Successful Societies Program, Gehl Cities for People, Arup and others.

We are thrilled to be embarking on a learning journey with the London School of Economics and the first cohort cities. These inspiring cities at the forefront of creating healthy, safe and vibrant urban environments that prioritise vulnerable groups, including babies and toddlers. – Cecilia Vaca Jones, Executive Director, Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Participating cities are engaged and motivated and already making pioneering links between the often siloed practices of early childhood development and urban development. Despite hailing from geographically and economically diverse cities, participants are identifying commonalities in their challenges and goals around improving the lives of young children through innovative leadership and urban design. – Savvas Verdis, Co-director, Executive Masters in Cities at LSE Cities

Learn more about the Urban95 Academy

Applications are now open for cohorts two and three of the programme, which begin in May 2022 and Sept 2022 respectively.

This article originally appeared on LSE Cities Website and is republished with permission.