Urban Institute’s Products and Services

Recognized for its broad economic and social policy expertise, the Urban Institute for nearly five decades has been a trusted resource for objective, research-based insights that help improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. Rigorous evidence anchors everything we do. But to make a difference, Urban’s work goes beyond building new knowledge: our scholars apply evidence to elevate debate, inform decisions, and generate solutions to today’s most pressing challenges.

Research and Analysis

We use rigorous tools and methods to answer the tough questions facing today’s policymakers and practitioners.

What’s happening and why?
Rigorous analysis of challenges and trends
Understanding today’s complex social and economic challenges and their underlying causes requires a rich tool kit of social science methods. Urban researchers gather and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data to provide accurate measurements and nuanced explanations of persistent problems and emerging trends.

What if?
Microsimulation and forecasting
Urban maintains a suite of sophisticated microsimulation models and forecasting tools that test new policy ideas, explore alternative futures, and quickly estimate how demographic, behavioral, and policy changes might affect individuals, families, and communities.

What works?
Randomized controlled trials and other impact evaluation methods
Urban researchers design and conduct randomized controlled trials and rapid control experiments, along with other methods, to rigorously measure how policies and programs affect people and communities.

How are we doing?
Implementation studies and performance measurement
Urban helps nonprofits and public agencies test promising new program designs, determine whether their programs and services are producing desired results, and measure returns on investment. We also design indicators and data-collection strategies to support continuous learning and improvement.

How is it affecting people and communities?
Community-based research
Urban lifts up the voices, experiences, and perspectives of the people and communities most affected by social and economic policies by involving them in the design, implementation, and interpretation of our research.


Data Science 

We apply cutting-edge processes and systems to analyze data for new insights.

Harnessing new technologies
Reduced computational time and costs
Urban data scientists capitalize on recent advances in technology to analyze massive datasets at minimal cost using cloud-based computing techniques.

Leveraging data from traditional and emerging sources
Surveys, administrative records, and unstructured data
Urban researchers combine traditional data sources and statistical methods with unstructured and web- based data and innovative processing techniques— such as web scraping, machine learning, and natural language processing—to provide real-time insights into policy issues.

Using data responsibly
Accuracy, equity, and privacy protection
Urban develops and applies the latest tools and technologies to assure that data are accurate and representative—particularly for historically disadvantaged groups—and that people’s privacy is protected.

Democratizing data
Accessible data for the public
Urban strengthens transparency and decisionmaking by cleaning and consolidating disconnected datasets and providing useful, open data to governments, community-based organizations, and the public.


Strategic Advising and Assistance

We collaborate with various stakeholders to tackle their most pressing problems with fact-based solutions and insights.

Crafting new solutions
Policy development and program design
Drawing on the best available evidence, Urban partners with policymakers and practitioners to develop new solutions to economic and social challenges.

Counseling philanthropy
Evidence-based advisory services
Urban advises foundations and individuals on successful investment strategies, sharing evidence and insight on promising new interventions
and trends. We work with new and established philanthropists to help them understand the rapidly changing nonprofit ecosystem, identify new areas for grantmaking, and provide guidance on how to avoid or overcome barriers to success.

Achieving better outcomes
Technical assistance and training
Drawing from research, Urban experts help practitioners serve their clients and communities more effectively. Through webinars, in-person trainings, consultations, site visits, and technical assistance, Urban boosts the capacity of nonprofits, practitioners, and local leaders to use data to target and evaluate their interventions.

Putting evidence into practice
Capacity building and learning communities

Urban develops tools and guidance that translate evidence into recommendations for practitioners. To facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences, Urban builds and supports communities of practice that connect researchers with leaders from the nonprofit, private, and public sectors.

Equipping scholars with new communications skills and tools
Evidence-to-action training and workshops
Urban helps researchers from other nonprofits and universities navigate the media and policy landscape through classes and “boot camps” on how to bring insights to new audiences. Our offerings include feedback sessions with journalists and policy experts as well as small- group tutoring in digital communications, data visualization, and engagement with media and decisionmakers.



We bring people together to discuss new evidence, share promising practices, and explore how policy solutions play out in real life.

Building knowledge across sectors
Roundtables, symposia, and workshops

Urban hosts conversations among researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and advocates that provide diverse perspectives on evidence and practice and generate fresh insights about how to address pressing policy challenges.

Sharing evidence with broader audiences
Public events

Urban convenes high-level newsmakers and experts in its Washington, DC, headquarters, elsewhere in the metropolitan region, and around the nation in events that are often accessible through live streams and recorded webcasts.

Showcasing current debates, history, and culture
Conversations with artists and authors

Urban hosts engaging film screenings, book releases, and other networking events that connect policy, research, and practice to people and communities across the country. These offerings help bring evidence to life, illuminating its relevance and elevating its impact


Strategic Communication

We combine data with compelling stories to show broader audiences why and how facts matter.

Data visualization
Maps and dynamic graphics that make data accessible

With best-in-class data visualization, Urban creates tools, maps, and other interactive features that bring research to life, allowing users to customize information and zero in on the places and issues they care about.

People affected by policy

Urban captures the diverse experiences of people at the heart of our research—often in their own words— showing the depth of social and economic problems, the impact of policy changes, and the solutions that are making a difference in people’s lives.

Digital platforms
Websites and data portals that serve communities
Foundations and public agencies turn to Urban for our expertise in building tailored, innovative websites that combine sophisticated data collection and visualization, interactive features, multimedia, and narrative storytelling.

Tailored outreach
Reaching audiences through old and new media
Urban develops and executes outreach strategies that exploit the full range of media channels to connect our products to their intended audiences, from national opinion-makers to local
community leaders.

Integrated Project Management

We manage and execute multifaceted, multi- year initiatives that build capacity and shape debate nationwide.