The Urban Institute believes strongly in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. Yet, in many areas, evidence may have only a low level of influence on the development of social and economic policy. The Policy Advisory Group expands the power of evidence by accelerating the production and application of actionable knowledge to shape and inform the policy challenges facing urban America.
Contemporary social, demographic, environmental, and economic issues pose special challenges for local leaders. We believe that urban challenges are not cities’ alone to solve. Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive, multidisciplinary responses that cut across policy domains and engage a range of stakeholders and levels of government.
We partner with researchers across Urban to deliver advice and quick-turnaround policy analysis to policymakers, practitioners, and philanthropy focused on cities and urban areas. Our goal is to make Urban a trusted, evidence-driven advisor to decisionmakers navigating urban challenges.
Though our researchers have always been sought by decisionmakers for their expertise, PAG represents a new group of Urban staff dedicated to better understanding decisionmakers’ needs and challenges, helping create solutions, and aggregating learnings to support broader field building. By working with scholars across Urban, PAG develops insights from existing work and new research to create products and projects that systematically translate what we know into strategies for actionable work on the ground.
Our team offers a range of support strategies to fit the needs and interests of leaders at four different stages in the policymaking process: problem definition, strategy development, evaluation, and sharing and networking of good ideas. Our products will be responsive to specific policy challenges and enhanced by a sustained level of engagement from our team.
The Policy Advisory Group also works within the organization to enhance the capacity of researchers to design rigorous, policy-relevant research proposals; communicate the relevance of research findings to policymakers and other nonacademic audiences; and connect with funders who are similarly interested in the development of actionable knowledge.
Though the Policy Advisory Group is still in its early stages of development, we see early signs of significant policy impact, a solid foundation from which to build. We have started work on several projects for foundations, professional organizations, and local governments, and we will expand our portfolio in 2015 and beyond. Most notably, the Housing Assistance Matters Initiative, which highlights research and analysis about the need for and benefits of federal rental assistance, has stimulated policy conversation and action at the federal, state, and local levels.