New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Wagner Study Produces 15 Policy Innovations for Next NYC Mayor

September 17, 2013

By Robert Polner

New Yorkers will elect a new mayor this fall, but with the city still facing a number of huge challenges, the city’s next leader will have to be every bit as experimental and innovative as his or her predecessor.

With the coming election in mind, urban specialists at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service went looking for new policy innovations that might be successful in New York City. The first step in the process—led by Neil Kleiman, director of the school’s Innovation Policy Labs, and Jonathan Bowles, who heads the nonprofit Center for an Urban Future—were interviews with more than 200 policymakers in cities around the world. An initial list of 120 policy ideas resulted.
Kleiman and Bowles then solicited feedback from policymakers with expertise on how government actually runs in New York, from those inside City Hall to those running nonprofits. The field was narrowed to 20 highly promising ideas, and the collaborators then brought together some of New York’s most thoughtful policy experts for two roundtable discussions, leading to a final list of 15 game-changing reforms.

Detailed in a newly published booklet, “Innovation and the City,” these ideas do not fit into a conventional policy area, such as education, housing, or job creation. Kindergarten-to-College Savings, for example, provides an automatic college savings account of $50 for all San Francisco public school kindergarteners, an incentive that addresses the need for more college readiness with asset-building strategies. It taps the private sector to manage the savings accounts and to garner additional dollars for those parents who add their own money.

Another program is Spacehive. Founded in the U.K., it uses a new crowdfunding website to drum up community ideas as well as funds for local capital projects. Other ideas are smart management approaches such as the Denver Peak Academy, in which hundreds of entry- and mid-level bureaucrats enroll in a five-day “change management” course and work up realistic reforms to take back to their home agency.

New York is hardly the only metropolis that can benefit from cutting and pasting from the 15 policy innovations in the report. A number of urban areas such as Los Angeles and Minneapolis will soon have new administrations, while local leaders everywhere face significant challenges. As Ben Hecht, president and CEO of Living Cities—a collaboration of some of the world’s leading foundations and financial institutions—said at a June forum convened to discuss the report: “There is a treasure trove of what people learn through the innovation process. People doing work on the ground actually put together tidbits and nuggets. That’s where innovation comes from.”

Type: Article

Wagner Study Produces 15 Policy Innovations for Next NYC Mayor

Search News

NYU In the News

Entrepreneurship Lab Opens at NYU

Crain’s New York Business covered the opening of the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurial eLab, which will be the headquarters for NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute and all of the University’s programs aimed at promoting innovation and startups.

A Globalizer for N.Y.U. in Abu Dhabi

The New York Times profiled Bill Bragin who will become the first executive artistic director of NYU Abu Dhabi’s new performing arts center.

Think Tank to Ponder a Future for Ballet

The New York Times profiled Jennifer Homans, the director of NYU’s new Center for Ballet and the Arts.

The Brilliant Ten: Jonathan Viventi Builds Devices That Decode Thoughts

Popular Science named Assistant Bioengineering Professor Jonathan Viventi as one of its “brilliant ten” for his research into brain implants that could one day halt epileptic episodes:

Living and Leaving the Dream: Adrian Cardenas’ Journey from the Major Leagues to College

The New York Times ran a feature on Adrian Cardenas, a former major league baseball player who is now studying philosophy and creating writing at NYU.

NYU Footer