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What Works Cities Announces International Expansion

The Bloomberg-funded group has offered its benchmarking certification program in the United States for years, and now it’s opening it up to local governments throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Aerial view of downtown Bogota, Colombia.
Downtown Bogota, Colombia
What Works Cities is expanding its certification program to now include basically the entire Western Hemisphere, following years of being open to only cities in the U.S.

The expansion was announced Thursday by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Results for America, two of the driving forces behind What Works Cities. Essentially, while the program plans to maintain its commitment to cities in the U.S., it is now also opening up certification for cities in Canada, Central America, and South America.

As part of this, Rochelle Haynes has been named managing director of the program, a position from which she will lead the expansion. Haynes brings more than 15 years of experience spread across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. In addition, organizers have updated the criteria cities need to meet in order to be certified.

Specifically, the criteria now also mandates that cities show expertise in data management, demonstrate that they manage data with equity in mind, and show that they are making progress in areas that affect residents’ well-being, including air quality, accessibility and sustainable growth.

“The changes we are making to the certification program will provide cities with a standard of excellence that clearly articulates how investing in foundational data and evidence practices can lead to more equitable and outcomes-focused impact for government and residents,” said Haynes in a statement.

For the uninitiated, the What Works Cities certification program dates back to 2017, and it is led by Results for America. The program offers a set of standards that cities can use to assess their capacity for data-driven decision-making. It’s proven to be an effective system of benchmarking and recognition, with 55 U.S. cities to date having obtained What Works Cities certification. The lone criteria for eligibility is having at least 30,000 residents.

More information can be found on the What Works Cities website.