Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some FAQs related to the WRI Ross Prize for Cities. If your question is not answered here, please email us at


Who can apply or be nominated?
The application is open to a broad range of projects and applicants. See the Terms and Conditions.
What is the timeline for the Prize?
The timeline for the WRI Ross Prize for Cities is as follows:
  • Submission period begins – February 11, 2018
  • Advisory Council recommendation period ends – March 30, 2018
  • Submission period ends – June 30, 2018
  • Finalists announced – October 2018
  • Media campaign surrounding finalists – November 2018 through March 2019
  • Distinguished Jury reviews finalists – March 2019
  • Winner announced at gala in New York – April 10, 2019
What is the selection process for the WRI Ross Prize?

The selection process is as follows:

  • Brief application [February 11 – June 30, 2018]: Projects considered for the prize will be selected through a process of either:
  • Open application: An organization can submit a self-nomination to highlight a project they are working on or have worked on.
  • Sourcing applications: WRI will also consult the WRI Ross Prize’s Advisory Council to invite projects to apply.
  • Semi-finalists selection [July 2018 - October 2018]: WRI staff will review applications, selecting 20 semi-finalists. Semi-finalists may be contacted to provide additional information, which will aid WRI in identifying five finalists.
  • Finalists’ selection [November 2018 - March 2019]: Selection of five finalists will involve an in-depth review, including site visit. Documented project information will be sent to the Jury, a group of globally recognized individuals, for final selection.
  • Announcement of winner at gala event [April 10, 2019]: All finalists will be invited to the event.
How do I know if my project is transformative?

We are looking for projects that have significantly changed cities’ economies, environmental sustainability and social fabrics. The Resources for Applicants page provides some suggestions and models for quantifying and conveying the extent of impact on each of these three dimensions. There is no minimum benchmark for a project to be considered “transformative,” though projects that have affected a larger proportion of the city’s area, population, emissions, environmental risks, or other aspects will be more competitive than projects that have had narrowly focused impacts. We have adopted this open approach for several reasons: First, we do not wish to force influential projects into arbitrary measure of impacts solely to ensure that the projects are directly comparable. Second, we do not wish to bias the prize review toward megacity projects by setting an impact bar that excludes projects that may have low absolute impact numbers, but have affected a large share of smaller populations. Third, we do not wish to reward or promote false precision about impacts simply to show that a project has achieved an arbitrary benchmark. We encourage applicants to make their best case for the “significance” of the transformation that can be attributed to the project.

The main objective of the WRI Ross Prize is to identify and celebrate transformative projects. The WRI Ross Center also hopes to learn more about how such projects are conceptualized, initiated and implemented. For this reason, we ask applicants to comment on the extent to which the project’s approach embodies transparency, inclusion and innovation, characteristics commonly associated with high-impact urban interventions. These criteria will not be considered in selecting a winner.

What is the earliest a project could have begun?
The earliest start date of a project is January 1, 1998. The WRI Ross Prize for Cities seeks to identify projects that have been implemented in contexts applicable to the present, and thus are more likely to serve as models for future projects.
Does a project have to be complete to be considered?
No. However, a project should have major phases completed and will only be assessed based on impact achieved as of the date of application. Prospective or projected impact is not considered.
Can I apply on behalf of projects that are complete and for which the lead organization(s) no longer exist?
Yes, projects that have been completed may apply. However, at least one of the lead organizations involved in the project must still be in existence. All contributors to the prize will be honored as winners, but the cash prize will only be awarded to organizations/entities that continue to exist in good legal standing.
What if my organization can’t receive grant funding from a foreign entity?
We will make every effort to find a way to ensure winners receive the cash award.
Will there be an awards ceremony?
Yes. The WRI Ross Prize for Cities will be awarded at a gala on April 10, 2019 in New York City.
When and where is the gala?
The gala is April 10, 2019, and will take place at Hudson Yards, New York City.
How will the WRI Ross Prize finalists be showcased?
Finalists for the WRI Ross Prize will be showcased through robust media coverage. This will include, but is not limited to: blogs, video, photography, information on the WRI Ross Prize website and social media coverage. Media coverage of projects is subject to change.
Are there conditions to the prize money?
The prize is awarded as a lump sum and has no strings attached. However, WRI shall have the right to withdraw the title of winner from a project in which the lead organization is accused of corruption, other criminal acts or is brought into public disrepute.
Is there a submission fee to apply?
No, there is no application fee.
What is the last day submissions are accepted?
The final day for application submissions is June 30, 2018 at 11:59pm EST.
What if our project is affiliated with a current or former WRI staff member?
Projects affiliated with WRI staff members are welcome to apply. If these projects are selected as semi-finalists, an in-depth review of the staff member’s involvement will occur and may result in the disqualification of the application. Refer to the Terms and Conditions.
What if our project is affiliated with a jury member?
Projects associated with jury members are welcome to apply. If these projects are selected as finalists to be assessed by the jurors, the jury member will be asked to recuse themselves and will be replaced. A Juror will be asked to step down if they have:
  • Funded a project’s implementing organization or paid key individuals for their work on the project.
  • Employed a project’s implementing organization or key individuals working on the project for any purpose within the last 5 years.
  • Invested in a project’s implementing organization or is otherwise in a position to gain financially from the organization’s success.
  • Been employed by an implementing organization in the last 5 years.
  • Been involved in promoting the project.
Is there an advantage to being recommended by a member of the Advisory Council?
No, there is no advantage to being recommended by an advisory council member. Advisor recommendations are intended to help broaden the scope of projects that apply to the WRI Ross Prize, not to help select a winner.
Our project is ongoing. Can we apply using these future projections?
Ongoing projects are welcome to apply, but past impact, not future projections, will be used to assess the project.
What if we anticipate impacts in different dimensions?
Please feel free to include other impacts, utilizing the “Other” designation in the Impact section of the application.
Can multiple applications be submitted for the same project? There are multiple stakeholders associated with our project; what if they submit separate applications?
Yes, but if WRI receives multiple applications for the same project, the respective teams will be asked to combine their applications. We recommend contacting all project stakeholders before submitting your WRI Ross Prize application.
If there are multiple stakeholders associated with our project, how do we share the prize money if we win?
Applicants are responsible for identifying a lead organization to receive the initial disbursement of funds, providing a distribution schedule that all organizations in the application agree with, and certifying that there are no significant contributors to the project that have been left out of the project application or prize consortium.
How many finalists will be chosen?
Five finalists will be chosen.
Is there one winner or multiple?
One project will be selected as the winner of the WRI Ross Prize for Cities.

Application Specific

Can applications be submitted in languages other than English?
Yes, the languages we currently support submission in are Amharic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish. If you need to submit in a language beyond these, we will do our best to accommodate, but we cannot confirm your application will be considered.
Can applications be saved and then continued?
No, they cannot. We recommend drafting your answers offsite, using the PDF provided in the application form, and then copying and pasting them into the application form.
Can I edit my application once it has been submitted?
Adjustments will be made on a case by case basis.
Does the project need to address each of the three dimensions – economic, environmental and social – to be considered for the WRI Ross Prize?
No, the project does not need to address each of the three dimensions of transformative urban projects to be considered. However, the strongest applicants will have aspects within each of the three.
Can I share media (photo, video, etc.) with my application?
Yes, we are interested in the way in which outcomes were achieved. If media enhances this explanation, there is a section of the application where applicants can upload up to five attachments (acceptable formats include: .gif .jpg .jpeg .png .txt .pdf .doc .docx .ppt .pptx .xls .xlsx), up to 2MB per attachment. There is also space to share links to videos, media and websites associated with your project.
Do you have examples of transformative urban projects?
Transformative projects can take many forms. On the Resources for Applicants page, we’ve identified some projects that are seen as transformative.

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