What Works Cities Certification Awarded to Baltimore, MD; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Durham, NC; Evanston, IL; Long Beach, CA; Miami, FL; Rochester, NY; and Salinas, CA
50 Cities Have Achieved National Standard of Excellence in Using Evidence and Data to Improve City Services, Increase Transparency, and Promote Civic Engagement Since 2017
New York, NY – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the 10 new cities awarded What Works Cities Certification in recognition of their exceptional use of data to inform policy and funding decisions to improve residents’ lives. What Works Cities Certification recognizes and celebrates U.S. local governments that are leading the nation in the use of data and evidence to improve services, create operational efficiencies, and engage residents. These data-informed strategies have enabled these newly Certified cities to increase resident satisfaction, create employment opportunities for residents, help local businesses thrive, decrease youth and gang violence, and more. This new cohort brings the total number of U.S. cities certified for outstanding data practices to 50 since 2017.
“The most effective mayors use data to define problems and craft bold new solutions, and this milestone of 50 certified cities highlights the critical progress local governments are leading across the country,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “By building a culture of data-driven decision-making, these cities will be more resilient and better equipped to fight climate change, protect public health, increase economic mobility, and much more.”
The Certification program, launched in April 2017, assesses U.S. cities on their data-driven decision-making practices, such as whether they are using data to set goals and track progress, allocate funding, evaluate the effectiveness of programs, and achieve desired outcomes from contracts with outside vendors. The program also measures whether cities are publicly and transparently communicating about their use of data and evidence. Each city that participates in Certification receives a customized city assessment that highlights their unique strengths and opportunities for improvement. What Works Cities partners then provide coaching, training, and technical assistance to help city leaders improve their data and evidence capabilities, embrace new practices aligned to the Certification standard, and drive outcomes for their community.
Cities with populations of 30,000 and higher are eligible to participate and are awarded Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certification depending on their level of data sophistication. By working toward Certification and implementing the best practices outlined by the program, cities across the United States are more effectively delivering results for residents.
“These cities are harnessing the power of evidence and data to accelerate progress in their communities,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America, the lead partner in the What Works Cities initiative. “As local governments begin investing billions in American Rescue Plan Act funds to meet urgent needs, these certified cities offer a roadmap for how local leaders can use evidence and data to increase the impact of these investments and deliver better results for residents.”
Some examples of how these newly Certified cities are using evidence and data to address current and future challenges include:
• Long Beach, CA used data to micro-target over 1,250 COVID-impacted local businesses, which then received more than $700,000 in grants.
• Salinas, CA launched a program to track and respond to 24 data points to help inform youth and gang violence prevention strategies, resulting in a 60% decline in youth violence.
• Durham, NC used data to remove barriers to employment for 46,000 individuals
by suspending fines and fees, and restoring residents’ driver’s licenses.
• Miami, FL deployed a resident-powered app to help map the highest-risk areas for flooding to protect neighborhoods and save lives.
• Buffalo, NY used open data to identify properties in urgent need of lead remediation, and secured $2.3 million in federal funds to help address the issue.
“Cities that are investing in building their data skills and capacity are seeing the results,” said Jennifer Park, founding director of What Works Cities Certification. “As the movement grows, we will see even more cities delivering better results through faster 911 response times, increased small business support, reduced waste and emissions, and greater civic engagement with residents.”
A report released earlier this year by the Monitor Institute by Deloitte, in collaboration with What Works Cities, detailed the growing movement of cities using data to drive decision-making and the benefits of this approach for residents. Since 2015, the percentage of U.S. cities tracking progress toward key goals has more than doubled (from 30% to 75%); the percentage of cities engaging with residents on a goal and communicating progress has more than tripled (from 19% to 70%); the percentage of cities with a platform and process to release data to the public has more than tripled (from 18% to 67%); and the percentage of cities modifying their programs based on data analytics has more than doubled (from 28% to 61%). These are several of the data practices assessed as part of What Works Cities Certification process.
Certification was developed by a team of experts from Results for America in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee and with support from The Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, and The Behavioral Insights Team. Over 200 cities have completed a Certification assessment, benchmarking their practices against the national standard. To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit https://whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/certification/.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 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: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
Courtney Greenwald (Bloomberg Philanthropies),
Ross Schwartz (What Works Cities),