Bloomberg targets mid-size cities with a $42 million data initiative

Fri, 2015-04-24 06:00 -- SCC Staff

The latest initiative from Bloomberg Philanthropies aims to help mid-size cities better use data and evidence to 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 for the $42 million 'What Works Cities' program.

"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, former mayor of New York City and the guiding force behind Bloomberg Philanthropies. "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."

Solving city problems
Through a partner consortium, What Works Cities will provide mayors with technical assistance, expertise and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to help them enhance their use of data and evidence to solve problems for their communities.

The program will help cities:

  • Create sustainable open data programs and policies that promote transparency and robust citizen engagement
  • Better incorporate data into budget, operational and policy decision making
  • Conduct low-cost, rapid evaluations that allow them to continually improve programs
  • Focus funding on approaches that deliver results for citizens

What New Orleans did
As an example of cities successfully using data and evidence, the Bloomberg announcement points to New Orleans using data to reduce blighted residences by 10,000 and increase the number of homes brought into compliance by 62% in two years. Once behind in efforts to revitalize abandoned and decaying properties, the city's "BlightStat" program has put it at the forefront of national efforts.

The first What Works Cities will be selected in mid-June based on applications received by June 1. To learn more and apply to be a What Works City, visit

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