A city’s effort to drive innovation and learning on a priority issue: An interview with Kristin Morse, New York City Center for Economic Opportunity

Kristin MorseThe Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) is a unit within the Mayor’s Office in New York City. It was launched in 2006 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to develop new and innovative anti-poverty initiatives and to rigorously test them to see what works. It provides about $100 million annually to primarily city agencies to fund pilot programs. The majority of funds come from the city, with additional support from state, federal and philanthropic sources. Since its launch, CEO has worked with 28 city agencies and over 200 community-based providers to pilot 50 programs. In recognition of its work, it won the 2012 Innovations in American Government Award.

The CEO provides insights into how public leaders can focus attention within government, and within their communities, on particular priority issues (in this case, reducing poverty); test new approaches; and rigorously evaluate the results in order to learn what works, scale up effective programs and stop doing what isn’t working. On the latter point, CEO has terminated about 20% of its programs for inadequate results, while at the same time scaling up several programs that have shown strong results.

To learn more, we are joined by Kristin Morse, CEO’s Executive Director.

Web extra: For brevity, the interview does not cover CEO’s Social Innovation Fund work, but more information is available here. This effort is supporting the replication of CEO’s most promising initiatives, including in eight urban areas in the U.S.

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