The heart of NYU Wagner's programs is our faculty. An amalgam of full-time, clinical/research/visiting, and adjunct professors, they are outstanding teachers, expert researchers and committed practitioners.
Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at NYU Wagner, will work on a project dealing with the size and shape of the contract and privatized workforce at the state and local levels. The fellowship represents an opportunity for Light to expand his work on the "true size of government" at a time when states and localities are trying to downsize their government workforces by outsourcing headcount -- an approach some see as "penny wise and pound foolish."
Bloomberg Philanthropies announced July 14 the establishment of a $24 million, three-year initiative to fund "Innovation Delivery Teams" that will help mayors effectively design and implement solutions to pressing city challenges, focusing on five major U.S. cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans.
In an integral part of the initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced a partnership with NYU Wagner to document and share best practices across these cities, and translate those learnings into resources that other cities can use.
"NYU Wagner is proud of its work on innovation and leadership and we are excited to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies in its new effort," said Ellen Schall, dean of Wagner. "We look forward to helping capture and synthesize key lessons across these initiatives in order to both build the knowledge base and support municipal innovation nationwide."
To meet each city's impact goals in priority areas, the new Innovation Delivery Teams, each one composed of high-performing staff, will generate innovative solutions, develop implementation plans, and manage progress towards defined targets. Bloomberg Philanthropies will fund the salaries of these staff members and provide a range of support for the project's duration.
In each city, the team will focus on top-priority issues identified by City Hall, achieving results and producing value. In Atlanta, the team will implement a comprehensive 311 system to improve customer service. In Memphis and Louisville, the teams will implement new job-growth strategies. In Chicago and New Orleans, the teams will cut waiting and processing times for key city services.
The "Innovation Delivery Team" grants are the first made through the Mayors Project, the new government innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The Mayors Project has two goals: increase innovation capacity within municipal government and disseminate effective programs and policies across cities. Additional investments will be made through the Mayors Project over the coming year.
"Mayors are uniquely positioned to tackle some of our most pressing challenges - from growing jobs to fighting climate change to keeping quality of life high," said Michael R. Bloomberg. "The Mayors Project will fuel
these efforts by spreading effective programs and strategies between cities and helping mayors work together in new ways around solutions. We are excited to kick off this new initiative in partnership with these five great American cities."
The "Innovation Delivery Team" model draws from successful approaches that have been utilized worldwide. In New York City, for example, Mayor Bloomberg established teams to develop and implement bold anti-poverty, sustainability, and efficiency agendas. Similarly, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair formed the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit to achieve impact in transportation, education, health, and criminal justice. In Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak's Performance Management and Delivery Unit has documented critical gains in advancing that nation's government and economic transformation plans.
The five cities selected are all large American cities with strong executive forms of municipal government. Most of the mayors are in the first 18 months of their first terms in office, giving the "Innovation Delivery Teams" sufficient time to achieve impact under the current administration. Team leaders shall report directly to the mayor and oversee a team of five to ten members, depending on city size and scope. Given this variation, the size of the grants awarded to each city will vary from $1.4 million to $2 million per year.
Selected Cities, Mayors and Priority Areas :
Atlanta - Mayor Kasim Reed
Introduce 311 and other initiatives to improve customer service. Dramatically reduce street homelessness
Chicago - Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Reduce waiting and processing times for key city services.
Dramatically scale energy efficiency efforts.
Louisville - Mayor Greg Fischer
Partner with Lexington to implement a new regional export strategy. Improve agency performance and public accountability.
Memphis - Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.
Increase small business growth in target neighborhoods.
Reduce handgun violence.
New Orleans - Mayor Mitch Landrieu
Reduce waiting and processing times for key city services.
Over the past nine months, Bloomberg Philanthropies surveyed government officials and a range of philanthropic, academic, and private and nonprofit organizations, to inform its approach to government innovation. This included convening 14 mayors of major American cities for a day of strategizing and idea generation in March.
Throughout these conversations, mayors and other stakeholders have identified both a heightened need for municipal innovation - demand for services is up and pressure on municipal budgets is severe - and a set of common barriers local leaders consistently face.
These barriers include siloed bureaucracies, a lack of risk capital, inflexible regulations, and challenges associated with successfully implementing programs that have been proven elsewhere. The Mayors Project's dual focus on increasing innovation capacity within municipal government and disseminating effective programs and policies across cities aims to address these challenges.
Throughout these efforts, Bloomberg Philanthropies will identify groups of cities interested in working on particular issues. Peer-to-peer learning networks that accelerate progress and elevate best practices will be established, and lessons learned will be shared broadly with other cities, academics, and grant makers.
The Financial Access Initiative (FAI) at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service has launched an important new study to better understand the financial lives of low-income Americans.
FAI, in partnership with Bankable Frontier Associates and The Center for Financial Services Innovation, will track families in four geographic regions in the U.S. over 16 months and collect highly detailed data on household financial activity. The study promises a timely and independent look at how low-income Americans are managing their financial lives. The $3 million project is supported by a grant from the Citi Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
FAI's managing director discusses the launch of the U.S.-centered financial diaries project in this video. The managing director is Jonathan Morduch, professor of public policy and economics at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU.
The "Financial Diaries" methodology employed to conduct this research has been successfully applied in Bangladesh, India and South Africa. The results of that FAI research were detailed in a groundbreaking book Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day (Princeton University Press, 2009). Instrumental in broadening conceptions of global poverty, the book revealed that poor households lead surprisingly active and sophisticated financial lives, driven by the need to cope with irregular and unpredictable incomes but few reliable tools to absorb economic shocks.
"Improving access to reliable, flexible financial products and services is an important step to help poor and low-income households better manage their economic lives," says Professor Morduch. "The Financial Diaries research has proven to be an effective means of gathering important information to inform the design of these kinds of financial tools."
"The findings in Portfolios of the Poor provided an eye-opening look at the financial lives of the poor in other countries, and we're excited to use this lens in the U.S. context," says Brandee McHale, Chief Operating Officer at the Citi Foundation. "This research can fill an important gap in the current data on how low-income families in our own backyards are making ends meet and help reduce the barriers to financial well-being that these families currently face."
In the U.S., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) found that some 17 million adults live in households without any bank accounts. Another 43 million have accounts but are "underbanked," relying on non-bank services such as pay-day lenders and pawn shops. Yet, there is little concrete data about the needs, preferences and use of financial services by low-income families.
"Remarkably, more than 30 million low-income families across the U.S. lack access to traditional banking and financial systems," says Frank DeGiovanni, director of financial assets at the Ford Foundation. "This landmark study will help us to better understand their financial lives, greatly improving the ability the financial industry of nonprofits, and policymakers to meet their needs and increase the quality, affordability, and accessibility of financial services."
To conduct this groundbreaking research, the U.S. Financial Diaries team will spend one-and-a-half years with 300 families, distributed across 4 research sites-in the South, the Northeast, the Midwest and the West. Researchers will meet with families every two weeks to collect highly detailed data on household cash flows.
This methodology of regularly observing household finances over long periods of time allows researchers to identify often-overlooked strategies of financial management, such as the use of informal borrowing and lending with neighbors and family members. The study is designed to capture spending and savings habits that often remain hidden in large surveys. The findings will be published in a series of reports beginning in mid-2012.
Instead of face painting and kielbasa, there were brightly colored worm tunnels, and a crocheted room. Italian ices and ferris wheels -- the stuff of traditional street fares everywhere -- were replaced by fresh thinking about environmental sustainability, neighborhood heterogeneity, and cutting-edge networking.
The streets and suites all around NYU Wagner's headquarters in the historic Puck Building were awash in new ideas on urban living May 4 to May 8 at the first-ever Festival of Ideas for the New City. Workshops and discussions, dealing with everything from art and housing to urban planning and public policy, took center stage at multiple locations throughout downtown.
The first-ever brainstorm of its kind, the Festival of Ideas was organized by the New Museum, with assistance provided by NYU Wagner and the Cooper Union, and other major partners.
Participants in the festival events included small businesses, local non-profits, and a raft of arts organizations.
The talks tapped the knowledge of thinkers from a variety of arenas. Artists, urban planners, architects and even musicians like David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) - who opened an event on bicycle transportation called "The Sustainable City" -- populated and energized the discussions.
The events were all aimed at coming up with ways of making city life more beautiful, durable, collective, connective, and innovative.
Two of the discussions were hosted at Wagner's headquarters at Lafayette and Houston streets, with Wagner also dispatching expert participants to other happenings, such as Professor and Associate Dean Rogan Kersh. Wagner's Josh Mandell attended the Downtown Policy Issues World Café, co-hosted at the Puck by NYU Wagner and IDEO, the design firm; he wrote up the lively discussion about new ways to use shared space, solar panels, and even white paint. Thirteen.org was also there, picking up intelligence.
Just three weeks into his role as head of the nation's largest public school system, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke with NYU Wagner's Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS) on April 27.
He discussed his career path, including founding a youth mentorship program, heading the National Urban League, and serving as Deputy Mayor of Education and Community Development. Chancellor Walcott also talked about leadership lessons he has learned from these experiences, including the importance of recognizing mentorship moments, the growth that comes from hiring people who will challenge you, and strategies for maintaining work-family balance in public service careers.
The public and private sectors are becoming interdependent through technology, globalization, and shared services and customers. Yet historically there has been a significant divide between the public and private sectors--with causes spanning from cultural attitudes to legal and political impediments. How can we advance partnerships in the arena of critical infrastructure?
On March 21, two officials from the Obama administration talked about key avenues to greater public-private partnerships in infrastructure protection and overall catastrophe preparedness. The occasion was a forum at NYU Wagner, with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Douglas Smith, assistant secretary for the private sector, and Todd M. Keil, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection.
Offering reaction to the officials' comments were respondents Carl Weisbrod, partner in the leading policy, economic development and planning consulting firm HR&A, and Wagner professors John Gershman and Rae Zimmerman. The moderator was William Raisch, Director, International Center for Enterprise Preparedness at NYU.