Panel Paper: Innovation In City Government/the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity

Thursday, November 8, 2012 : 1:55 PM
International D (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kristin Morse, NYC Center for Economic Opportunity

NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) was established in 2006 to develop new anti-poverty initiatives.  Like the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), CEO is focused on innovative approaches to poverty, measuring what works, and combining public/private funding. 

CEO is a unit in the New York City Mayor’s Office and with a $100 million annual public/private innovation fund.  CEO has worked in partnership with 28 city agencies and over 200 community-based providers to pilot 50 programs.   Examples of these programs include education and subsidized job programs for disconnected young adults, programs that help low-wage workers build skills and increase earnings, programs that help families build assets and decrease debt, and incentive and tax credit programs.  CEO programs are rigorously monitored and evaluated and those results used to inform program improvements and make budget decisions.  

CEO has terminated approximately 20% of its programs for inadequate results and reallocated resources to those that show results.  It has also raised private and other public funding to scale up impactful programs and agency partners have integrated successful programs and practices into improving their core operations. 

The Social Innovation Fund is one way that CEO is replicating its successful programs and the SIF allows CEO to build on this evidence and learn more about how these programs work at larger scale and in different communities or among different populations.  CEO was recently honored to receive the Harvard University Kennedy School Innovations in American Government award, in recognition of its effective antipoverty efforts and the replication supported by the Federal SIF. 

This paper will demonstrate how accountability paired with resources to try new ideas can lead to better results and systemic reforms.   The presentation will draw from the many independent evaluations of CEO’s work.  It will also highlight some of the challenges of measuring effectiveness and demonstrating results under the pressure of declining public resources.