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Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces First-Ever National Standard for Data-Driven Local Government

New What Works Cities Certification Effort Will Award Platinum, Gold, and Silver Status to Cities

Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced What Works Cities Certification, a new effort which will publicly recognize the municipal governments that most effectively use data to allocate resources and improve residents’ lives. A team of national experts will assess each city’s data practices, and then award cities with a “platinum,” “gold” or “silver” certification status for achieving excellence in applying data to how they govern. Like a Good Housekeeping Seal or ENERGY STAR rating for data-driven governance, What Works Cities Certification will provide cities with a new, rigorous benchmark to assess their own practices against.

What Works Cities Certification extends the impact of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ existing What Works Cities initiative, which has already helped more than 75 American cities better understand their cities’ data and use the insights to improve citizen life. What Works Cities Certification will be open to all cities in the United States with 30,000 or more residents. Certified cities will be announced annually and any cities that do not initially qualify can reapply every other year. Cities are invited to express interest starting today at

“Mayors are eager to find new ways to put data to work on all the big challenges we face – and that’s why we created the What Works Cities program,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, the former three-term mayor of New York City. “What Works Cities is helping cities use data to save money, time, and resources – and it is producing powerful results across the country.”

Leading experts from more than a dozen organizations that support cities – including Code for America, the National League of Cities and the Ash Center at the Harvard Kennedy School – have endorsed and lent their knowledge and experience to What Works Cities Certification, and will be involved in the assessment of certified cities.

“I’m excited to see What Works Cities Certification help all cities improve by providing workable models for outcomes-focused government,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder and Executive Director of Code for America. “Standards can be transformative for local government, especially when married with helpful guidance on how to meet those standards.”

“There hasn’t been a national standard setting a bar for excellence for this method of governing,” said Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities. “What Works Cities Certification has created this standard. I’m optimistic that this roadmap for success will improve outcomes in our cities, and we are looking forward to working with What Works Cities to support data-driven decision-making.”

The Certification program will build on the success of participating cities, which are using performance management, open data, performance-based contracting and behavioral insights to deliver better results for their residents.

The program was announced at the second annual What Works Cities Summit, which is convening more than 350 city leaders and experts in the field. At the event, Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced that ten new cities have been selected to join What Works Cities, bringing the initiative to a total of 77 cities, more than three quarters of the way toward its goal of 100 cities.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 400 cities around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit

About What Works Cities:
What Work Cities, launched in April 2015, is one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance cities’ use of data and evidence. Through the initiative’s expert partners, which are providing technical assistance to 100 cities on a rolling basis through 2018, cities around the country are receiving support, guidance and resources to succeed. In 2016, What Works Cities was named by Forbes as “one of the ten most promising philanthropic bets” of the year and by Engaging Local Government Leaders as the “most important company operating in the local government arena.” For more information, please visit

The current participants in the What Works Cities program include Albuquerque, NM; Anchorage, AK; Augusta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Birmingham, AL; Boise, ID; Boulder, CO; Buffalo, NY; Bellevue, WA; Boston, MA; Cambridge, MA; Cape Coral, FL; Chattanooga, TN; Charlotte, NC; Corona, CA; Denton, TX; Denver, CO; Des Moines, IA; Downey, CA; Durham, NC; Fargo, ND; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Fort Worth, TX; Gilbert, AZ; Glendale, AZ; Greensboro, NC; Gresham, OR; Hartford, CT; Independence, MO; Indianapolis, IN; Jackson, MS; Kansas City, KS; Kansas City, MO; Knoxville, TN; Laredo, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Lewisville, TX; Lexington, KY; Lincoln, NE; Little Rock, AR; Louisville, KY; Madison, WI; Mesa, AZ; Miami, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Modesto, CA; Naperville, IL; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; Norfolk, VA; Olathe, KS; Orlando, FL; Portland, OR; Providence, RI; Raleigh, NC; Riverside, CA; Salinas, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; Scottsdale, AZ; Saint Paul, MN; South Bend, IN; Syracuse, NY; Tacoma, WA; Tempe, AZ; Topeka, KS; Tulsa, OK; Tyler, TX; Victorville, CA; Virginia Beach, VA; Waco, TX; Washington, DC; West Palm Beach, FL; and Wichita, KS.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rebecca Carriero, (212) 205-0182,
What Works Cities, Sharman Stein, (914) 522-4102,
What Works Cities, Kristin Taylor, (646) 854-5572,