What Works Cities
Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2015, the What Works Cities program is one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance cities’ use of data. By providing robust technical support, access to expertise, and peer-to-peer learning, Bloomberg Philanthropies is encouraging city leaders to make better use of available evidence to engage the public, fund and improve services, and evaluate progress. The effort includes the What Works Cities Certification program — established in 2017 and open to any city with a population of 30,000 or more — which provides a standard by which to assess the capacity of a city to use data for effective decision-making.
Numbers tell compelling stories, and they help us find answers that make a real difference in people’s lives. We’re grateful for what the partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped us accomplish for communities across our city.
Eric Garcetti, Mayor Los Angeles, California
The What Works Cities program is run in collaboration with five partners: Results for America; the Behavioral Insights Team; Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab; Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence; and the Sunlight Foundation. Forty U.S. cities have received official What Works Cities Certification, including two (Los Angeles, California, and Louisville, Kentucky) that have achieved certification at the platinum level.
In November 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies expanded What Works Cities in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ballmer Group. The joint effort is helping ten selected cities use data and test new ways to improve opportunity, particularly in neighborhoods where children lack access to good schools or face barriers to economic mobility.
Top photo: Mayor Marty Walsh examines Boston’s 311 and City Score dashboard data. Through What Works Cities, the City of Boston focused on structuring and managing contracts to deliver better results, bringing greater accountability to how public funds are spent. Credit: City of Boston