Johns Hopkins expands efforts to help governments, nonprofits find data-driven solutions

Centers for Civic Impact will be part of university's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

City skyline and data

Johns Hopkins University announced today that it has launched the Centers for Civic Impact, an effort to help public organizations thoughtfully use data and research to better understand and improve public life.

Civic Impact will build on the success of the Center for Government Excellence's data work by also offering governments and nonprofits the latest in policy research from the new Center for Applied Public Research and public sector training from the new GovEx Academy. These efforts will be bolstered by the academic and research expertise of Johns Hopkins, as Civic Impact will be part of the university's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

"Our university is committed to fostering communities locally and globally," Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels said. "Through the new Centers for Civic Impact's combination of mentoring, scholarly research, and training, we will continue to bring our expertise and research to the public sector and inspire data-driven change that serves cities around the country and around the world."

Civic Impact will help public sector organizations:

  • More effectively deliver services
  • Build technological skills
  • Fill the knowledge and skills gap left by years of dwindling public sector resources
  • Strategically employ the practical applications of academic research in policy areas such as economic development, economic equality, community health, sustainability, public safety, and transportation
  • Leverage Johns Hopkins research and expertise

"Whether it's greater access to health clinics, connecting disadvantaged youth to employment, or increasing the availability of affordable housing, we know from experience that change is more effective when it is based on data and evidence," Civic Impact Executive Director Beth Blauer said. "Civic Impact will empower governments and nonprofit organizations to make transformational change so that residents thrive."

Johns Hopkins launched the Center for Government Excellence, or GovEx, in 2015 to support What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that helps cities use data and evidence to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents' lives. GovEx has now worked with more than 140 cities around the world and will continue to provide technical assistance and customized coaching in building data management, performance management, and advanced analytics skills and practices.

Simultaneously launching within the Centers for Civic Impact is GovEx Academy, which will offer the public sector a range of online and on-site courses in managing, analyzing, and communicating with data. Expert instructors from GovEx Academy will help government and nonprofit organizations learn how to solve problems using their own data.

To further the work of Civic Impact, the newly created Center for Applied Public Research will connect public sector practitioners to academic researchers from Johns Hopkins and other universities to create evidence-informed policy solutions. This center will collaborate with a range of experts to develop resources and test new approaches to some of the most pressing challenges faced by the public sector, on topics ranging from workforce development to food insecurity.

The expansion of Civic Impact was supported by the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ballmer Group, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Philanthropic contributions allow Civic Impact to offer some public organizations the services at no cost. Its services and trainings are also available for governments and nonprofit groups to purchase at lower-than-market rates.

"Being able to collect and analyze large data sets is critical for government officials to be able to solve intractable challenges such as vacant housing, the opioid epidemic, and food deserts, to name a few," said Beverly Wendland, dean of the Krieger School. "Civic Impact will serve as a conduit for the public sector to devise data-based solutions that will ultimately improve the quality of life for residents."