While there is much to learn from peers, we don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ solution for every city. That’s why we provide expertise on a range of topics with a lens focused on individualized solutions.
Policy Solutions for Member Cities
Member cities receive three free technical assistance memos per year. We work with mayors and city staff to identify issues critical to their cities and provide concise memos focused on policy solutions that work. A few examples of the memos we have created for member cities are below. If you’re a member city, please contact us for a copy of each memo.
Diversifying Firefighting Force
Women and minorities face significant social and institutional challenges to entering fire service. One New England member city asked us to analyze how to diversify their firefighter force and provide relevant policy solutions.
Paid Parental & Family Leave
The ability for employees to take paid leave specifically for family care is rare within the United States, but some forward—thinking cities have been moving the needle on this issue. One Midwest member city asked us how a small city could implement paid parental & family leave, including the impact it would have on retention and recruitment, its costs and benefits, relevant examples from other cities, and what implementation would look like.
Other questions we have helped member city mayors answer include:
- Which paid leave and parental care models would work best for my city?
- How do I get more people to visit downtown on the weekends?
- How do I inspire innovation in my city manager and government leaders?
- What should I do with our vacant lots?
Technical Assistance through Grants
Additionally, through topic- and/or location-specific grants, we have been able to provide even more individualized technical assistance to cities.
Improving Public Water
In Duquesne, PA, we have worked with Mayor Nikole Nesby and regional partners to improve infrastructure and update the City’s water systems. In South Bend, IN, we have worked with Mayor Pete Buttigieg to develop a water affordability program for stormwater, sewer and drinking water fees, as well as the development of a customer assistance program. Learn more about our water-related work here. This work has been supported by the Mott and Heinz Foundations.
Applying Behavioral Science to City Challenges
Behavioral science–crafting “nudges” or small tweaks to policies and programs–can improve the chances of a particular outcome and help local governments save money, improve services, and reach constituents in new ways. Partnering with Harvard’s Behavioral Insights Group, we invited member cities to participate, including Portland, OR; Wisconsin Rapids, WI; Grand Rapids, MI; Culver City, CA; Columbia, SC; and Burlington, VT. With technical assistance from these partners, participating cities developed and tested behavioral approaches to solving city challenges such as recycling compliance, voluntary donation program participation, and commuter mode shifts. This work has been supported by the Surdna Foundation.