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.”

Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in April 2015, What Works Cities is a national initiative helping cities across the United States enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making and engage residents. What Works Cities is the nation’s most comprehensive philanthropic initiative that supports local leaders’ efforts to identify and invest in what works.

What Works Cities works across every region in the United States with cities that have 30,000 or more residents. All cities are part of a quickly growing national movement of local governments committed to using data to make their residents’ lives better. As of May 2018, What Works Cities, with support from partners, has provided direct support to 100 cities in 39 states.

What Works Cities also implemented 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.