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December 12, 2018 - Sometimes, little things can make a big difference. That’s one lesson from a stunningly simple experiment in Syracuse, N.Y., that netted the city $1.5 million worth of overdue tax payments. Earlier this year, the city mailed out more than 3,800 letters to residents who were behind on their property tax bills. Checks came pouring in. More of those payments came from people who had received the letter with Martha’s message than those who did not. The Syracuse experiment was an example of how cities are applying insights from behavioral science to make government more efficient, effective, and inclusive.

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December 7, 2018 - To help local governments at all levels of data maturity, the Sunlight Foundation on Thursday released its “Roadmap to Informed Communities,” an open-data framework and associated tools that can be used to form a city’s first civic data project or enhance existing ones.The roadmap contains several resources, including an updated version of the group’s Tactical Data Engagement framework, which guides cities from through the planning and implementation of open data work with the public. The guide has been informed by the organization’s open data work with more than 60 cities though a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities program.

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December 6, 2018 - The city of Tulsa has figured out a way to get more people to pay their municipal fines: send them a text. A six-month pilot program that ended in September found that individuals who received a text message reminding them that they had a payment due were significantly more likely to pay the fine on time and avoid additional penalties for failure to pay. James Wagner, the city’s chief of performance strategy and innovation, said the city partnered with Code for Tulsa and the nonprofit What Works Cities to put the pilot program together at a cost of about $100.

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November 30, 2018 - In the November 2018 issue of the What Works Cities newsletter, we're encouraging all U.S. cities with a population of 30,000 or more to participate in WWC Certification and learn more about the program from our Certification Standard Committee. We're also celebrating a new $12 million investment in WWC to help 10 U.S. cities increase economic mobility for their residents.

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November 28, 2018 - City officials sometimes assume that the public will celebrate important municipal operational successes. Yet it is rare for such news to capture the attention span of residents pressed with their own day-to-day activities. Behind every successful algorithm-based, data-smart policy solution, there lies a story of human beings endeavoring to solve a problem. To this end, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative has added new criteria to its Certification program that outline methods for local governments and their chief executives to share stories of progress with their citizenry.

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November 20, 2018 - Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ballmer Group will collaborate on a $12 million project to help 10 communities analyze and improve economic mobility, the groups announced. The selected U.S. cities will work with advisors from Bloomberg’s What Works Cities to build on data-driven practices that measure barriers to economic progress, then develop, test and share approaches to improving economic mobility. Participants will also get access to the Opportunity Atlas, an online resource developed by Harvard University and the U.S. Census Bureau that uses census data to examine economic mobility issues.

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November 18, 2018 - The philanthropies of several of the country’s wealthiest people are teaming up to advance a data-driven approach in cities to bring economic opportunity to struggling residents. The Ballmer Group and the Gates Foundation joined Bloomberg Philanthropies to put up $12 million toward an offshoot of Bloomberg’s What Works Cities initiative, which will focus exclusively on economic mobility.

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November 15, 2018 - Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group announced today a new $12 million project that will help communities analyze economic mobility in American cities and develop interventions that can increase residents’ economic progress. Ten American cities will work closely with a team of advisors from What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that helps cities confront urgent challenges through data and evidence based decision-making.

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November 15, 2018 - Earlier this year, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities program created a set of criteria aimed at molding a new standard for excellence in city government. Dubbed What Works Cities Certification, they laid out the specifications and awarded tiered certification standards to nine major American cities, with five more also being recognized. They were given these certifications for 2017. Now for the first time, What Works Cities has published its certification criteria for 2018, doing so in a post on medium.

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November 15, 2018 - 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.

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