Explore how neighborhoods have changed in Denver and Baltimore to understand why historical redlining maps are not strong predictors of present-day housing instability.
The Research to Action Lab is an innovation hub serving decisionmakers and creative thinkers eager to effect social change. We draw on the breadth and depth of the Urban Institute’s research insights to test new strategies and develop cutting-edge tools, programs, and trainings, as well as provide strategic and philanthropic advice to public, nonprofit, and private-sector leaders. Nimble and creative, the Lab takes an integrated approach to helping decisionmakers navigate current challenges and seize future opportunities in localities throughout the United States. Our multidisciplinary team offers expertise in identifying and cultivating approaches that shape public debate, improve decisionmaking, and spark disruptive solutions to today’s complex social and economic challenges.
Our team also partners with Urban’s researchers in designing and delivering evidence-informed programs that catalyze meaningful change for people and communities. And by engaging directly with policymakers and practitioners, we ensure that our efforts inform the most pressing challenges and generate tailored solutions. Our offerings include the following:
- Strategic advising and assistance. We help stakeholders understand research and use fact-based insights and solutions to address their immediate and long-term challenges, as well as support investment strategies, policy design, and goal setting.
- Convening. Our team brings together thought leaders and changemakers with complementary areas of expertise to build and share knowledge through focused, facilitated discussions, silo-busting roundtables, and public symposiums driven by clear goals.
- Training and technical assistance. Our team delivers training and technical assistance to local government agencies, nonprofits, and service providers to support them in accessing and applying research so that they can improve performance, achieve better outcomes, and track progress over time.
- Integrated program management. Drawing on Urban’s breadth of cross-cutting expertise, we manage and implement complex, multiyear initiatives with and for partners who want to make a difference. As a trusted thought partner, the Lab, working alongside Urban researchers, contributes to accelerating innovation and social change through various engagements. Among them:
Supporting local changemakers to improve upward mobility from poverty. Our Boosting Upward Mobility project provides an analytic framework, metrics, and planning tools to help local changemakers tackle the structural barriers blocking economic and social mobility from poverty in their communities. Informed by evidence-based mobility metrics and the planning guide for local action, we are developing actionable data and tools, delivering technical assistance, and supporting shared learning to enable local leaders to create and bolster conditions that substantially boost upward mobility from poverty and narrow racial and ethnic inequities.
Advancing vibrant urban economies in collaboration with policymakers and practitioners. In Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, and other cities, our team helps local leaders build equitable, opportunity-rich communities. The Shared Prosperity Partnership (SP2) delivers insights from data and research, strategic advisement, and technical assistance to local leaders committed to building equitable, inclusive, and climate-resilient cities. We also share knowledge between local, state, and federal policymakers and practitioners to help accelerate progress.
Elevating housing as a vehicle for building stronger, more resilient communities. The Housing Matters initiative delivers information on evidence-based policies and practices, technical assistance, and new research to housing-focused changemakers who have the power to advance solutions for enhancing access to affordable housing. Our team prioritizes breaking down barriers between housing and other fields—such as education, climate, health, and justice—to encourage better outcomes for all.
Disrupting the link between housing instability and jail through innovative solutions. In collaboration with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Urban is coordinating the Just Home Project, a national program designed to support communities in the development of specialized housing models that can remove barriers to housing stability, improve outcomes for people with a history of justice involvement, and reduce racial disparities in both systems. Through the initiative, four communities from MacArthur’s Safety and Justice Challenge were selected to receive technical assistance from Urban, flexible planning grants, and access to a $15 million pool of Program-Related Investment resources from MacArthur to finance their projects.
Boosting vaccine equity and supporting effective practice. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, the Partnering for Vaccine Equity (P4VE) program is addressing racial and ethnic disparities in adult COVID-19 and influenza vaccination. Urban’s Research to Action Lab awards subgrants and delivers technical assistance for community-based organizations working to build knowledge and community trust to effectively increase vaccine access and uptake. As the group learning manager for the P4VE learning community, Urban’s Health Policy Center provides a forum for members to share knowledge, connect with subject matter experts, and build resources to support vaccine equity efforts.