Celebrating 50 years of Urban—and looking ahead

Dear Changemakers,

This year the Urban Institute marks a 50-year legacy of impact. Yet even as we honor our remarkable history, we are looking to the future with an initiative that will launch us into new areas of work—and I’d like you to help shape this institution for its next 50 years.

As we celebrate Urban’s first five decades this week, we are also kicking off a year-long effort to determine what knowledge is needed to achieve lasting social change in the years to come. As Urban always has, we are asking the tough questions, among them:

  • What would it take to ensure all of us have access to an affordable home in a community rich with opportunity?
  • What would it take to eliminate the policies, programs, and institutional practices that impede racial equity?
  • What would it take to achieve quality jobs for all workers?

Urban’s experts will unveil findings to these and other questions on our new Urban Next50 platform, as well as identify solutions that architects of social change like you are pursuing to address next-generation challenges. We’ll also introduce fellow changemakers you may not have heard of who are designing provocative, inspiring ideas for the future. Urban is focused on working with all of you to develop the evidence and data you need to advance bold solutions that can empower all people to thrive in our fast-changing world.

And it’s that dizzying pace of change that inspired Urban, with support from the Citi Foundation, to embark on this year of inquiry. It’s clear that technological advancements, demographic shifts, a changing global economy, and more are rapidly transforming how people will live and work in the decades ahead. Some ultimately will benefit from this upheaval, while others may see their American dream becoming further out of reach. Meanwhile, people’s unease about these disruptions is fueling division in our country and emboldening those who would like to roll back progress on racial and economic injustices.

Despite these troubling times, these forces of change can be harnessed to expand opportunities and boost upward mobility. They can help create a world in which everyone has the chance to contribute, to work, to be valued, to belong, and to have a voice. But this is only possible—and sustainable—if the solutions that leading thinkers and doers like you design are rooted in evidence and real-world experience.

As Urban’s experts dive into developing the knowledge and evidence needed to tackle society’s future challenges, we want to hear from you. What are your most pressing concerns about today’s fast-changing world? What bold ideas do you believe could drive forward equity, racial justice, and upward mobility?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warmly,
Sarah


Join us!
Join me on Oct. 1 for a conversation with Deb and Jim Fallows, authors of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America, about the insights they gleaned from people across the country who are finding new solutions to today’s problems and readying their communities for the future. Register here.

Calling all entrepreneurial leaders
Urban is now recruiting for the 2019 Nittoli Fellowship, which supports practitioners working directly with communities. The fellowship offers an opportunity to partner with researchers on a concept with the potential to reduce inequalities and promote social mobility. I hope I can count on you to share this great opportunity with your networks.