urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

About the Urban Institute

What We Do

Our mission: the Urban Institute gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues — to foster sound public policy and effective government.

The Urban Institute builds knowledge about the nation’s social and fiscal challenges, practicing open-minded, evidence-based research to diagnose problems and figure out which policies and programs work best, for whom, and how.

Learn more about our work:

Year in Review 2012

Financial statement, highlights, and annual information newly updated for 2012. Read more


Our HistoryPresident Lyndon Johnson gave Urban a clear mandate.

In the mid-1960s, President Johnson saw the need for independent nonpartisan analysis of the problems facing America's cities and their residents. The President created a blue-ribbon commission of civic leaders who recommended chartering a center to do that work. In 1968, the Urban Institute became that center.

Our Commitments

  • Use rigorous, state-of-the-art methods to analyze public policies and programs
  • Bring sound objective evidence to public policy decisions
  • Deepen public understanding of policy issues
  • Save government and communities time and money through research on effective and efficient programs
  • Work to make our Washington, D.C., metropolitan area a stronger community


APPAM logo The Urban Institute is a member of the
Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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