About Urban

Organizational Principles

The Urban Institute is funded primarily by foundations, corporate philanthropies, and public agencies at all government levels. We also receive support from nonprofits, universities, and individuals. Most of our funding is awarded per project or program. A portion of earnings from our endowment also supports a small part of our annual budget, allowing Urban to deepen our research and data science capacity, seed new initiatives, and deliver fact-based insights, tools, and data to the hands of changemakers who are best placed to act.

Funding Principles

We are grateful for the generous support of numerous funders who make it possible for us to advance our mission. At all times, Urban Institute experts strive to be collaborative and operate with equity, inclusivity, independence, and integrity. These values and the following principles guide Urban experts’ engagements with our funders.

Consistency with mission

The pursuit of essential support should not divert Urban from our mission. Urban solicits and accepts funding only for activities that are consistent with our mission.

Public understanding and idea sharing

Urban’s mission is best advanced by sharing the data, evidence (including people’s lived experience), and promising solutions identified through our research. We believe this deepens the knowledge of those best positioned to help improve the well-being of families and communities. Urban therefore strives to widely share our research findings and insights. In some instances, we also work with funders to help them understand the implications of our analyses for their own efforts and decisions.

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 leadership of Urban will defend the independence of researchers and experts even if funders disagree with their findings or conclusions.

Intellectual property

Urban 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 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, Urban does not take positions on issues. However, researchers have autonomy to pursue new ideas, and they are empowered and supported to share their own evidence-based views and policy recommendations that have been shaped by their research and analysis. Urban researchers are expected to be objective and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

Diversity of perspective

Urban strives to build teams with a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. We view this across many dimensions, including the range of academic disciplines and issue areas represented on teams, the variety of research and analytic methods used, the breadth of modes of inquiry followed, and the unique experiences and perspectives that each person brings. We are also comfortable when different Urban experts who are examining the same or related questions reach different conclusions, provided they are transparent about their methods and the work meets our standards of quality. We believe this not only spurs innovation, it is also critical to the relevance and excellence of the data and evidence Urban produces. 

Disclosure of funding sources

Each year, Urban publicly acknowledges all contributions to support our research. We list funders in categories based on the amount of funding received for each year. Urban will consider granting anonymity to non-corporate funders (e.g., individuals and foundations) who request it, subject to evaluation of the best interests of Urban and the funder with regard to transparency, reputational risk, and the limits of the law. Where 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. Urban’s annual reports are available online.

Freedom to decline support

At our leadership’s discretion, Urban can at any time and for any reason reject or return support from an individual, corporation, or foundation.

Protection of the Urban brand and reputation

Urban will guard the appropriate use of our name, logo, and reputation. Funders may not use Urban’s brand or visual identity without advance permission for each specific use.