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The 5BF Fellows

Five Borough Future is a vision of self-determination and policy progress for NYC.


Nine million New York City residents find themselves at the mercy of one of the most corrupt state governments in the country, a hostile White House, and local politicians too often captured by machine politics, special interests, and their own ambitions for the next job. As a result, our city suffers. Our schools remain hopelessly segregated, our neighborhoods are increasingly unaffordable, and our transportation system is falling apart.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Over the next few years, we have the opportunity to elevate policies and ideas commensurate with the talent and ambition of this city and create an environment where strong leaders can make New York City a place where the most vulnerable among us can flourish.   

Our vision is guided by two gateway principles: New York City autonomy and government reform.


New York City Autonomy

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The New York State Legislature holds ever-increasing power over the city’s future. New York City has been stripped of many of the regulatory, taxation, or enforcement powers that other major U.S. cities take for granted. We’ve lost control over decisions affecting everything from the core functions of our transit and public housing systems to more pedestrian concerns like whether we have speed cameras on our streets or plastic bags in our grocery stores. We must fight to restore as much of that power to the city as possible.

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Government Reform

New York needs an energetic and ethical government at all levels. That includes key reforms to make state and city government more transparent—as well as changes to our campaign finance and voting systems to lower the barriers to entry for elected office. Beyond that, we need a competent and focused mayor and City Council who will put in the time and effort to ensure that our city government delivers results for the people of New York.


Five Borough Future, a project of Arena and Arena Summit, is a plan to achieve that vision.

It has three parts: Fellowship, Academy, and Policy.



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We at Arena Summit are launching a Five Borough Future Fellowship for New York City’s emerging civic leaders. This six-month program will bring together activists, non-profit leaders, and aspiring political candidates from all five boroughs to learn how to effectively champion Arena’s key goals—government reform and city autonomy— through numerous avenues, including advocacy,  grassroots organizing, and electoral campaigns. The program will consist of bi-monthly seminars and two full day retreats. Through these seminars, Fellows will build leadership skills, develop deep background in NYC’s shared history and politics, and form relationships across the city’s many diverse communities.

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The Arena is holding an Academy in New York for aspiring candidates and campaign staff from August 8th to 10th. The Academy, Arena’s third, will equip attendees with the skills, knowledge, and tools they need to build winning campaigns and movements.


Policy Platform

In 2018, we kept hearing from elected officials and candidates  that they needed more help developing policies free of the influence of interest groups and political machines. This is our answer to that demand. The Five Borough Future platform is our articulation of policies most likely to improve the lives of all New Yorkers. Our audience for this platform includes aspiring civic leaders, candidates, and other concerned citizens of every stripe.