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University initiative aims to help cities make data-driven change

John Hopkins University in Baltimore is launching the Centres for Civic Impact which will help public organisations to use data and research to improve public life.

Centres for Civic Impact wants to help governments bring transformational change
Centres for Civic Impact wants to help governments bring transformational change

John Hopkins University has announced it is expanding its data work efforts with public sector organisations with the launch of the Centres for Civic Impact.


Civic Impact, which takes over from the Centre for Government Excellence, seeks to help public organisations “thoughtfully and masterfully” use data and research to better understand and improve public life.


Public sector training


Civic Impact intends to also build on the previous centre’s data work by offering governments and non-profits the latest in policy research from the new Centre for Applied Public Research and public sector training from the new GovEx Academy.


“Our university is committed to fostering communities locally and globally,” said Ronald Daniels, president, Johns Hopkins.


“Through the new Centres 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.”


According to John Hopkins, these efforts will be bolstered by its academic and research expertise as Civic Impact will be part of the university’s Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences.


Civic Impact aims to help public sector organisations across the following areas:

  • 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,” added Beth Blauer, executive director, Civic Impact.


“Civic Impact will empower governments and non-profit organisations to make transformational change so that residents thrive.”

"We know from experience that change is more effective when it is based on data and evidence”

Johns Hopkins introduced GovEx in 2015 to support What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that aims to help cities use data and evidence to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents’ lives.


GovEx claims it has since worked with more than 140 cities around the world and will continue to provide technical assistance and customised coaching in building data management, performance management, and advanced analytics skills and practices.


Solving problems wth data


Simultaneously launching within Civic Impact is GovEx Academy, which will offer the public sector a range of online and on-site courses in managing, analysing, and communicating with data.


Instructors from GovEx Academy will instruct government and non-profit organisations to solve problems using their own data.


To further the work of Civic Impact, the newly created Centre for Applied Public Research will connect public sector practitioners to academic researchers from Johns Hopkins and other universities to create evidence-informed policy solutions.


The centre will collaborate with a range of experts to develop resources and test new approaches to some of the most “intractable challenges” faced by the public sector, on topics ranging from workforce development and food insecurity.


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