Funding Principles

The Urban Institute strives to meet the highest standards of integrity and quality in its research and analyses and in the evidence-based policy recommendations offered by its researchers and experts. The organization’s reputation for integrity and quality is our most valuable asset, which we seek to protect and enhance.

We are grateful to our funders and partners who make it possible for Urban to advance its mission. We believe that operating consistent with the values of independencerigor, and transparency is essential to achieving our shared goals.

The principles described below are designed to help us advance our mission and the objectives of funders through consistent application of these values. This is a living document that will be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary and as we learn from experience.

Funding shall enable and not conflict with mission: The pursuit of essential support should not divert the Institute from its mission. Therefore, Urban will solicit and accept support only for activities that are consistent with its mission.

Adding to public understanding and sharing of ideas:  Urban’s mission of opening minds is best advanced by sharing the data, methods, findings, insights, and knowledge gained through our work. We add to the public’s, practitioners’, policymakers’, and researchers’ knowledge in order to improve outcomes and elevate debate. Therefore, we strive to disseminate widely the findings and insights from our work. In some instances, we also will work with funders to help them understand the implications of our analyses for their own work and decisionmaking.

Independence from funders:  No funder shall determine research findings or the insights and recommendations of our experts. Urban will not accept any support that implies or requires endorsement of a position or product. We welcome comment, correction, and substantive engagement from all informed parties to enhance the quality of our work, but the board and management of the Institute will defend the independence of researchers and experts even if funders disagree with their findings or conclusions.   

Intellectual property:  The Urban Institute retains rights in intellectual property produced during and after the funding period. After a piece of funded work is complete, we strive to communicate the insights and conclusions of our research through other formats including essays, interactive features, data visualizations, or blog posts, subject to reasonable constraints imposed to protect individual privacy or proprietary information. We provide funders with reproduction and distribution rights for research reports they have funded.

Expectation of researchers:  As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues, but it does empower and support its experts in sharing their own evidence-based views and policy recommendations that have been shaped by scholarship. Urban scholars and experts are expected to be objective and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

Diversity of thought:  We welcome and celebrate the diversity of our staff members and partners across many dimensions, including the range of academic disciplines and issue areas represented, the variety of research and analytic methods used, the breadth of modes of inquiry followed, and the unique experiences and perspectives that each employee brings. We believe diversity spurs innovation while improving the quality of our work. We are comfortable when different Urban Institute experts, examining the same or related questions, reach different conclusions provided that they are transparent about their methods and the work meets our standards of quality.

Disclosure of funding sources:  All contributions will be publicly acknowledged annually and the list posted on our website. We list funders in categories based on the amount of funding received for each year. Urban will consider granting anonymity to individual funders who request it, subject to evaluation of the best interests of the Institute and the funder with regard to transparency, reputational risk, and the limits of the law. Where particular products or events are made possible by a particular funder, the funding relationship shall be disclosed in connection with that product or event along with standard language affirming our research independence.

Freedom to decline support:  Urban can, at any time and for any reason, reject or return support from an individual, corporation, or foundation at management’s discretion.

Protection of the brand and reputation for quality and independence:  Management will guard the appropriate use of the Institute’s name, logo, and reputation. Funders may not use the Institute’s brand or visual identity without advance permission for each specific use.