Vanguard is an annual gathering of the best and brightest young urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors, including urban planning, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation, sustainability, design, art and media.

Each year, Next City selects 40 applicants whose bright ideas for cities, experience in the field and ambition for the future all show great promise to become members of the new Vanguard class. Vanguard members — non-profit directors, city council members,
 artists, private sector leaders 
and others influencing the direction of their cities — along with alumni, host city committee representatives and Next City staff gather for an intensive (and fun) series of presentations, workshops, neighborhood tours and more. The aim is to collectively learn and think about how to tackle challenges faced by the host city as well as cities across the country.

The conference now heads into its fifth year, and the impact is tangible. Spanning an ever-broader geographic reach (the 2013 Vanguard class was more geographically diverse than ever, with members hailing from 28 cities), this growing network of Vanguard alumni is catalyzing new collaborations and partnerships while spreading innovative ideas. Read about Vanguard alumni here, and click here for a recap of the 2013 Vanguard in Cleveland.

2014 Next City Vanguard Conference

April 24 – 26 | Chattanooga, Tenn.

2014 marks the fifth annual Next City Vanguard conference and the first time a Southern city has hosted the event. Chattanooga is a city in a state of renewal. Its legacy rail networks have made way for new industry in fiber optics. The conversion of a major bridge into a pedestrian walkway, the expansion of a riverside aquarium, and the construction of a new pier and park are just a few examples of how the city has reclaimed its riverfront and continues to redevelop its downtown. Chattanooga has become a home for tech start-ups, popups and incubators, attracting professionals and giving the city a new face.

Chattanoogans, you’re invited to two free, public events: PechaKucha Vol. 17 on Friday, April 25 at 8:30pm and The Next City Challenge: Chattanooga on Saturday, April 26 at 11:00am. Registration is required to attend The Next City Challenge. Click here to join us as Vanguards take the stage and share their ideas for Chattanooga.

Made possible with support from the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Benwood Foundation and the Footprint Foundation, this year’s Vanguard conference will gather 40 ambitious individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated the ability to have an impact on their city or on the national dialogue about urban issues.

How to Apply

Applications are now closed.

Conference Schedule

(Vanguards & other participants should refer to conference program for details.)

Thursday, April 24
1:00pm Vanguard Registration
1:30pm Unconference Sessions
5:00pm Welcome Reception
6:00pm Welcome & Opening Remarks
6:30pm (m)adLib Intros (Vanguards)
8:15pm Dine-Arounds

Friday, April 25
8:00am Breakfast & Tour Briefing
9:00am Tours
12:00pm Lunch
12:30pm Tour Recap & Discussion
1:30pm Workshops
5:00pm Cocktail Hour
6:00pm Dinner
8:30pm Vanguard-themed PechaKucha (optional)

Saturday, April 26
8:300am Breakfast (note schedule change)
9:00am Presentation Prep with Teams
11:00am The Next City Challenge: Chattanooga (public presentations)
12:30pm Closing