What Works Cities


In cities across the United States, mayors lack the tools to use data and evidence to improve how governing gets done.

The What Works Cities initiative tackles this challenge head-on. By providing robust technical support, access to expertise, and peer-to-peer learning to cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies is encouraging mayors and cities to better use data and evidence to engage the public, improve services, evaluate progress, and fund “what works.”

What Works Cities aims to help 100 mid-sized cities in the United States address the unique challenges mayors face. Specifically, cities receive help opening their data; incorporating data into budget, operational, and policy decision making; conducting low-cost evaluations; and steering funding to programs that get results for citizens. In early 2017, What Works Cities also launched and is now implementing a Certification program that provides U.S. cities with a new, rigorous benchmark against which to assess and improve their own data and evidence practices.

Joining in the effort are partners The Behavioral Insights Team, Harvard University’s Government Performance Lab at Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, and the Sunlight Foundation. Results for America oversees the implementation of the initiative.

U.S. cities with populations between 100,000 and 1,000,000 are eligible for the program.

The What Works Cities program is part of the American Cities Initiative, a suite of investments that empower cities to generate innovation and advance policy that moves the nation forward.