A trio of philanthropies — the Ballmer Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies — have agreed to invest $12 million in an economic mobility project designed to help cities establish approaches to solving inequality.
The project will lend advisers from one of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ civic tech initiatives, What Works Cities, to ten cities facing problems with economic mobility. The advisers, according to a statement, will work with local leaders to measure the scale of the economic mobility in each city — when the scope is fully realized, the cities will work with the advisers and policy experts from Harvard’s Opportunity Insights institute to develop data-driven solutions.
“Today, economic mobility is top-of-mind for city leaders around the country,” said Patti Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies in a statement. “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.”
Opportunity Insights is Harvard’s research institute focused on social mobility. The participating cities will have access to its online research database developed with the U.S. Census Bureau, Opportunity Atlas, that contains anonymous data of over 20 million residents to help tailor specific solutions to certain cities.
“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,” said Jeff Edmondson, executive director of community mobilization at Ballmer Group in a statement.
The investment comes on the back of a $42 million investment from Bloomberg into its What Works Cities initiative in May, which officials said would “deepen and expand” the effort.