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Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group Announce Joint Project to Increase Economic Mobility in Local Communities

Additional $12 Million Invested in What Works Cities to Develop Approaches to Help Residents Access Economic Opportunity in American Cities

Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group announced today a new $12 million project that will help communities analyze economic mobility in American cities and develop interventions that can increase residents’ economic progress. The project will work to identify barriers to economic mobility, understand the impact of potential interventions, and share what works.

“Today, economic mobility is top-of-mind for city leaders around the country,” said Patti Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Through this new partnership, we will follow the data to help communities develop approaches that have the potential to increase opportunity and improve residents’ lives.”

Ten American cities will work closely with a team of advisors from What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that helps cities confront urgent challenges through data and evidence based decision-making. The project will engage local leaders and residents to build on best practices in data-driven governance to help cities measure the scope of the issue and then develop, test, and share evidence-based approaches to increasing economic mobility for residents.

“We’re delighted to support Bloomberg Philanthropies’ efforts to help cities do more to overcome the barriers to economic mobility in their communities,” said Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Closing data gaps, and putting resources into the hands of those with deep experience and great ideas to create economic opportunities is critical to reviving the American Dream.”

Cities will also have access to the Opportunity Atlas, an interactive online resource developed by Opportunity Insights at Harvard University in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau. Launched earlier this year, the Atlas uses anonymous data from over 20 million residents to investigate the barriers to economic mobility. Cities will work with policy experts from the institute. Access to this data set combined with analytic guidance and technical support from What Works Cities will allow cities to measure the scope and scale of economic mobility in their community and develop tailored approaches to tackle the issue.

“Currently, it’s hard to understand the impact of government spending on the lives of individuals and communities. Concern over lack of real-time data on what works and what doesn’t is raised in nearly every meeting we attend with elected and agency officials, philanthropies, grantees, and other community leaders. We believe that access to data and skilled analyses by decision makers are crucial to help improve economic opportunity in the United States, and we are proud to partner on this initiative,” said Jeff Edmondson, Executive Director of Community Mobilization at Ballmer Group.

What Works Cities received an additional $42 million earlier this year to deepen work with American cities. The What Works Cities advisory partners will drive the new economic mobility effort. These partners are: Results for America, the Behavioral Insights Team, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab, and the Sunlight Foundation. What Works Cities is the nation’s most comprehensive effort to enhance cities’ use of data and evidence to make better policy decisions, improve services, evaluate progress and find “what works.”

Through this initiative, city leaders bring the people, policies and practices in local government to deliver better results for residents. The focus on increasing economic mobility is the first of many issue-specific projects that will be rolled out over three years. To learn more about how to partner with What Works Cities, go to


About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 480 cities in more than 120 countries 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 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter.