Bloomberg Philanthropies Launches $42 Million “What Works Cities” Initiative

Press Release: “Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the launch of the What Works Cities initiative, a $42 million program to help 100 mid-sized cities better use data and evidence. What Works Cities is the latest initiative from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation portfolio which promotes public sector innovation and spreads effective ideas amongst cities.

Through partners, Bloomberg Philanthropies will help mayors and local leaders use data and evidence to engage the public, make government more effective and improve people’s lives. U.S. cities with populations between 100,000 and 1 million people are invited to apply.

“While cities are working to meet new challenges with limited resources, they have access to more data than ever – and they are increasingly using it to improve people’s lives,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “We’ll help them build on their progress, and help even more cities take steps to put data to work. What works? That’s a question that every city leader should ask – and we want to help them find answers.”

The $42 million dollar effort is the nation’s most comprehensive philanthropic initiative to help accelerate the ability of local leaders to use data and evidence to improve the lives of their residents. What Works Cities will provide mayors with robust technical assistance, expertise, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities that will help them enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services to solve problems for communities. The program will help cities:

1. Create sustainable open data programs and policies that promote transparency and robust citizen engagement;

2. Better incorporate data into budget, operational, and policy decision making;

3. Conduct low-cost, rapid evaluations that allow cities to continually improve programs; and

4. Focus funding on approaches that deliver results for citizens.

Across the initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies will document how cities currently use data and evidence in decision making, and how this unique program of support helps them advance. Over time, the initiative will also launch a benchmark system which will collect standardized, comparable data so that cities can understand their performance relative to peers.

In cities across the country, mayors are increasingly relying on data and evidence to deliver better results for city residents. For example, New Orleans’ City Hall used data to reduce blighted residences by 10,000 and increased the number of homes brought into compliance by 62% in 2 years. The City’s “BlightStat” program has put New Orleans, once behind in efforts to revitalize abandoned and decaying properties, at the forefront of national efforts.

In New York City and other jurisdictions, open data from transit agencies has led to the creation of hundreds of apps that residents now use to get around town, choose where to live based on commuting times, provide key transit information to the visually impaired, and more. And Louisville has asked volunteers to attach GPS trackers to their asthma inhalers to see where they have the hardest time breathing. The city is now using that data to better target the sources of air pollution….

To learn more and apply to be a What Works City,”