Press Room

From Results for America

Results for America Partners with Bloomberg Philanthropies to Help Cities Invest in What Works

RFA to Coordinate “What Works Cities” Initiative to Help Cities Use Data and Evidence to Improve Outcomes for Their Residents

Washington, DC – Today, Results for America (RFA) announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies selected RFA to manage their new What Works Cities initiative which will help 100 mid-size U.S. cities better use data and evidence in decision making. This $42 million, three-year initiative will also help mayors and local leaders use data to engage the public, make government more effective and improve people’s lives. Results for America will ensure a world class experience for participating What Works cities and lead and coordinate a partner consortium that will provide robust technical support, access to expertise, and peer-to-peer learning for those participating cities. It will also advance a nationwide dialogue on the need for cities to use data and evidence.

“City leaders across the nation are using data to improve programs and policies and drive innovation—and we’re thrilled to put additional wind at their backs,” said James Anderson, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation programs. “Bloomberg Philanthropies has assembled expert partners to provide world class support and inspiration to cities. We’re thrilled to work with Results for America, which has generated a tremendous national conversation about evidence based policy making and will play a central role in What Works Cities moving forward.

“With Bloomberg Philanthropies investment in What Works Cities, the national movement to use data and evidence to solve government challenges has just been elevated to a new level,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America, “This investment will give a critical-mass of mayors the tools and expertise they need to use data and evidence to increase public confidence in their local governments and improve lives. It is exciting for Results for America, and all of the partners who have been working on this agenda, to be part of this extraordinary commitment.”

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 deliver technical assistance to participating cities, promoting tested as well as innovative new approaches. The program of support will help cities:

  1. Create sustainable open data programs 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 the most effective and high-impact approaches for addressing community needs.

To do this work, a consortium of leading organizations has been assembled to inspire, challenge, and support cities. These partners will provide mayors with technical assistance, expertise, and learning opportunities that will help them enhance their use of data and evidence. They include:

  • Results for America will lead and coordinate the What Works Cities partner consortium, ensure a world-class experience for all What Works cities, and advance a nationwide dialogue on the need for cities to use data and evidence in decision making.
  • The new Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University will work with cities to assess the state of What Works practices nationwide, and support implementation and enhancement of Open Data and performance management programs.
  • The Government Performance Lab at Harvard Kennedy School will support cities in improving the results they achieve with their contracted dollars.
  • Sunlight Foundation will help cities craft meaningful and sustainable Open Data policies.
  • The Behavioral Insights Team will help cities conduct real time, low-cost evaluations of programs, so they can continually improve city services.

Across the initiative, What Works Cities will learn how cities currently use data and evidence in decision making, and how this unique program of support helps them advance.

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.

The What Works Cities initiative follows several Results for America initiatives aimed at helping local leaders use data, evidence and evaluation to improve outcomes for young people, their families and communities. In September, 2014, RFA launched their Local Moneyball for Government Fellowship Program and named the inaugural class of fellows from 11 cities including New Orleans, Seattle and Louisville, among other national leaders.The fellows, who were chosen through a competitive national process, are in the middle of a rigorous 18-month initiative designed to help them develop and operate the local government infrastructure necessary to be able to use data, evidence and evaluation to improve outcomes for their cities’ residents. In November, 2013, Results for America and The Bridgespan Group released “Geek Cities: How Smarter Use of Data and Evidence Can Improve Lives,” which reports on the data and results revolution taking place in local governments and analyzes how these handful of city leaders are radically transforming their city services by embracing “geeky” analysis of hard data and evidence to drive results.

What Works Cities will also capitalize on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ data-driven approach. Bloomberg Philanthropies uses data to identify some of the world’s most pressing problems, implement solutions, and monitor their progress. In 2014, Fast Company named Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for “doing good, methodically.”

To learn more and apply for What Works Cities, visit www.WhatWorksCities.org.

Full Press Release