America’s criminal justice system strips too many people of their jobs, families, health, and dignity. It puts people of color at risk, disproportionately harms low-income people, limits the potential of juveniles caught in the system, and doesn’t give everyone the opportunities they need to get back on track. And it does all this at an enormous cost to taxpayers.
Health care in the United States is more expensive than in any other country in the world, yet the nation’s overall health doesn’t reflect that level of investment. Our system results in uncoordinated and often unaffordable care for patients; inequities exist among communities; and special interests and market manipulations have inflated costs.
High-quality education is the engine of social mobility and should be accessible to learners of all ages. But too many students lack access to good public schools, which affects their ability to pursue higher learning. And about 40 percent of students at colleges and universities don’t get a degree within six years — and then often face crippling debt.
City and state governments are being asked to tackle complex social and financial issues in their communities, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution to most problems. Some lawmakers need guidance about how to improve tax policies, others are looking for effective ways to diversify their economy, and many need help revamping public services.
We are guided by:
We know from the history of rigorous program evaluations that surprisingly few social programs succeed in producing meaningful progress in education, poverty reduction, crime prevention, and other areas. However, exceptional social programs that produce important improvements in people’s lives do exist. We work to identify, evaluate, and scale them.
A critical part of effective policy change is identifying solutions through research and evaluation. Far too often, no one knows whether a program or policy really works, and in many cases, no one collects or measures the most basic data about a given problem. We fund many types of research to understand problems and identify policy solutions in criminal justice, education, public finance, and health. In all these areas, what we look for is research that systematically, accurately, and significantly reduces the most pressing uncertainties about important policy issues. Learn more about our approach to funding research here.
Policy change is a long and rarely linear process that first involves identifying solutions that work. Evidence alone, however, is not enough. It must be complemented with a range of activities that ensure implementable policies are developed and policymakers have the motivation to act on them.
The Coronavirus pandemic has altered all aspects of how we work and live, and the nation's response to it has direct implications in the areas where we focus our philanthropic efforts.