Press & Media

Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces First Cities Selected to Join What Works Cities Initiative

Over 100 Cities Applied To the Nation’s Most Comprehensive Initiative to Help City Halls Use Data and Evidence Effectively to Deliver Better Results for Residents

Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the first cities selected to participate in What Works Cities – a $42 million initiative to help 100 mid-sized American cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve the lives of residents. The mayors of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Mesa, Arizona; New Orleans, Louisiana; Seattle, Washington; and Tulsa, Oklahoma have publicly committed to enhance their use of data and evidence in order to improve services, inform local decision making and engage citizens.

These eight cities will receive expert support and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to make government more effective. Since the launch of the What Works Cities initiative in April 2015, mayors from every region of the country have expressed their desire for technical assistance to use data more productively. Within the first six weeks, 112 U.S. cities across 40 states applied to be a part of the program. One hundred cities will be admitted to the program on a rolling basis through 2017.

“Making better use of data is one of the best opportunities cities have to solve problems and deliver better results for their citizens. The first group of cities in the What Works Cities program  represent the range of local leaders across the country who are committed to using data and evidence to improve people’s everyday lives,” said Michael R. Bloomberg.

What Works Cities collaborates with participating municipalities to review their current use of data and evidence, understand where they are utilizing best practices and identify areas for growth. Through its expert partners, What Works Cities then designs a customized approach to help mayors address a variety of local issues including economic development and job creation, public health, and social services.

The first cities selected plan to improve their use of data and evidence in the following ways:

  • Jackson and Mesa will implement open data practices for the first time
  • Chattanooga, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, Seattle, and Tulsa will strengthen existing open data practices
  • Jackson and Tulsa will implement a citywide, mayoral led performance management program for the first time
  • Chattanooga, Kansas City, and Mesa will strengthen existing performance management programs
  • New Orleans and Louisville will develop the capacity to conduct low-cost, real time program evaluations
  • Seattle will focus on integrating data and evidence into their contracts to achieve better results

The What Works Cities initiative capitalizes on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ belief in the importance of data and evidence to improve people’s lives and make government more effective. Bloomberg Philanthropies uses data to identify some of the world’s most pressing problems, implement solutions, and monitor their progress. In 2014, Fast Company named Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of the world’s Most Innovative Companies for “doing good, methodically.”

In cities across the country, mayors are increasingly relying on data and evidence to deliver better results for city residents. For example, New Orleans’ City Hall used data to reduce blighted residences by 10,000 and increased the number of homes brought into compliance by 62% in 2 years. The City’s “BlightStat” program has put New Orleans, once behind in efforts to revitalize abandoned and decaying properties, at the forefront of national efforts.

New York City focused efforts to reduce air pollution and improved the health of residents after the local government studied and publicly released data showing which areas of the city were most polluted, and which local sources were contributing the most harmful air pollutants.  Louisville is now using data from volunteers who attached GPS trackers to their asthma inhalers to better identify and target the sources of air pollution. And Kansas City achieved a 20% increase in overall satisfaction with the city’s image since 2010, after using data from their annual citizen survey and 311 services to drive decision-making for city departments.

Bloomberg Philanthropies believes cities are drivers of progress and innovation, and hold the solution to many of the pressing issues we face – from confronting climate change and improving public health to creating jobs in a changing global economy. By helping city governments innovate, engage the public, and adopt proven solutions, the lives of billions of people can be improved. Bloomberg Philanthropies works toward this goal through efforts as diverse as Bloomberg Associates, C40, Cities of Service, CityLab, the Compact of Mayors, Global Road Safety, Innovation Teams, the India Smart Cities Challenge, the Public Arts Challenge, What Works Cities, and more.

The consortium of leading organizations that has been assembled by Bloomberg Philanthropies to provide a program of support, includes Results for America; the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University; the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School;   Sunlight Foundation; and The Behavioral Insights Team.

To learn more and apply to be a What Works City, visit
To receive updates on the What Works Cities initiative, email

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rebecca Carriero, (212) 205-0182,
What Works Cities, Sharman Stein, (914) 522-4102,