Today, the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University and the Centre for Public Impact announce the third cohort of The Opportunity Project for Cities. Akron, OH will join local governments Detroit, MI, Macon-Bibb County, GA, and Miami-Dade County, FL in a 22-week design sprint that partners government and community organizations with pro bono technical support from Google.org. The Google.org technologists will help to research, design, and create digital tools that address residents’ most pressing needs.
Communities in the 2023 The Opportunity Project for Cities cohort will be working to address the following local issues:
- Akron, OH seeks to proactively address and ameliorate poor rental and low-income housing conditions while strengthening the relationship between the city government and the community with a new, equitable code enforcement system.
- Detroit, MI will develop aggregate community engagement datasets to avoid survey redundancy, and help residents better understand their neighborhoods and community opportunities.
- Macon-Bibb County, GA plans to make it easier for local business owners to succeed by streamlining the permitting processes across agencies and departments.
- Miami-Dade County, FL looks to improve regional decision-making for residents, community organizations, and governments around climate and extreme heat by better sharing data across the 34 municipalities in the county
“We’re thrilled to announce this next cohort of The Opportunity Project for Cities and applaud these communities for doubling down on their dedication to engaging residents to address a diverse range of community challenges by leveraging data and technology,” said Lynn Overmann, Executive Director of the Beeck Center. “As this program continues to grow, we hope to see more communities collaborating in this way and designing solutions that positively impact people’s daily lives.”
The Opportunity Project for Cities is a program, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, wherein local governments, community leaders, and Google technologists (including Product Managers, Software Engineers, UX Researchers, UX Designers and more) work with residents to identify pressing local issues and prototype digital tools that use open data. The program aims to surface new open data technology solutions to address public challenges and foster cultures of government transparency, accessibility, and responsiveness to strengthen trust with residents and lay the foundation for lasting community-driven innovation. Cities participating in the different cohorts of The Opportunity Project For Cities through 2024 are Knight cities, defined as places that once hosted Knight newspapers.
“Open data can be a powerful tool for governments seeking to solve pressing challenges. But to truly unlock the potential of open data, community engagement is imperative,” said Rebecca Ierardo, Program Manger for the Centre for Public Impact. “The third cohort of The Opportunity Project for Cities builds on the learnings of previous cohorts, enabling governments to design solutions that matter in partnership with their communities.”
Previous participants of The Opportunity Project for Cities include the Cities of Detroit, MI; Long Beach, CA; Saint Paul, MN; and San José, CA, as well as Macon-Bibb County, GA, and Miami-Dade County, FL. In partnership with their communities, participants developed prototypes that address a wide range of challenges, such as improving urban tree canopy and providing equitable internet access. Upon the program’s conclusion, the Beeck Center and Centre for Public Impact will deliver a comprehensive report to share key insights for local governments facing similar challenges and a toolkit to encourage the replication of The Opportunity Project for Cities model. The report and toolkit from the 2022 cohort were published in March 2023.
The program was inspired by the U.S. Census Bureau’s The Opportunity Project and adapted for local contexts by the Centre for Public Impact and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University. The Opportunity Project for Cities is supported by the Knight Foundation, with pro bono technical support from Google.org.
QUOTE SHEET FROM THE OPPORTUNITY PROJECT FOR CITIES PARTICIPANTS & PARTNERS
- Ana Peralta Chammas, Director of County Innovation, Miami-Dade County
“The strongest solutions to our community’s challenges come from the collective impact of meaningful partnerships,” said Ana Peralta Chammas, Miami-Dade Director of County Innovation. “In our second year selected as a community to join The Opportunity Project For Cities, we will collaborate on a cross-municipal data sharing platform making way for added pathways in which residents, businesses and entrepreneurs can support local resilience efforts, invest in and grow our local economy, and work together to build our Smart City ecosystem.”
- Tony G. Geara, Deputy Chief of Mobility Innovation, City of Detroit
“We are thrilled to take part in the TOPC cohort this year to support the City of Detroit’s mission to minimize redundancy in the community engagement process. We hope this will lead to more intentional programs, stronger relationships, and better outcomes for our communities. This is a process that we are grateful to have such strong resident support in and are mindful of this for each effort we are involved in.
The Office of Mobility Innovation is focused on equity, accessibility, transparency and sustainability for existing mobility modes, and the modes of tomorrow. To find success, we lead with public and community engagement and sincerely value the time that Detroiters spend to share their stories and experiences so we can better understand their mobility challenges and needs.”
- Mayor Daniel Horrigan, City of Akron, Ohio
“The City of Akron is excited to work with The Opportunity Project for Cities to utilize the human-centered design process and data in order to more proactively address low-income housing conditions.”
- Erin Hattersley, Manager, Google.org
“Google.org is proud to support The Opportunity Project for Cities for the third year in a row as we are committed to providing opportunity for all. From visualizing local climate data to helping minority-owned businesses navigate the permitting process, past projects are a testament to the powerful social impact we can have if we take a collaborative approach to solving community challenges. We firmly believe that by bringing together community organizations, government leaders, and Google’s pro bono technologists, our combined knowledge and expertise can help move the needle in our local communities.”
- Kelly Jin, Vice President for Community and National Initiatives, Knight Foundation
“We’re proud to continue to support The Opportunity Project for Cities. These four Knight communities are leading the way in how technology and data alongside responsible resident engagement – can directly improve community outcomes like housing conditions, mobility experience, business permitting, and intermunicipal local services.”
About The Opportunity Project for Cities
The Opportunity Project for Cities brings together governments, community leaders, and tech volunteers to address local challenges through the power of open data and community engagement. During the program, cities and counties create a series of customized digital tools that speak to residents’ most pressing needs. The Opportunity Project for Cities builds a culture of government transparency, accessibility, and responsiveness that strengthens trust with residents and lays the foundation for lasting co-created innovation.
The Opportunity Project for Cities was inspired by the U.S. Census Bureau’s The Opportunity Project and adapted for local contexts by the Centre for Public Impact and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University. The Opportunity Project for Cities is supported by the Knight Foundation and pro bono technical support from Google.org.
About the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University
The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University brings together students, expert practitioners, and extended networks to work on projects that solve societal challenges using data, design, technology, and policy. An anchor of Georgetown University’s Tech and Society network, its projects test new ways for public and private institutions to leverage data and analytics, digital technologies, and service design to help more people. For more information, please visit beeckcenter.georgetown.edu.
About the Centre for Public Impact
At the Centre for Public Impact, we believe in the potential of government to bring about better outcomes for people. Yet, we have found that the systems, structures, and processes of government today are often not set up to respond to the complex challenges we face as a society. That’s why we have an emerging vision to reimagine government so that it works for everyone.
A global not-for-profit organization founded by the Boston Consulting Group, we act as a learning partner for governments, public servants, and the diverse network of changemakers who are leading the charge to reimagine government. We work with them to hold space to collectively make sense of the complex challenges we face and drive meaningful change through learning and experimentation.
About Knight Foundation
We are social investors who support a more effective democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. KF.org
Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges combining funding, innovation, and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunity for everyone. We engage nonprofits and social enterprises who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. We want a better world, faster — and we believe in leveraging technology and applying scalable data-driven innovation to move the needle.
About the City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation
The City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation (OMI) builds and delivers mobility solutions that improve transportation experience for all Detroit road users. By centering residents in every step of the process, OMI is focused on leveraging mobility as a pathway to opportunity in Detroit. OMI is responsible for identifying and testing mobility innovations, and for collecting and sharing best practices with local, national, and international partners. To learn more about OMI email email@example.com or visit detroitmi.gov/mobility.
About the Eastside Community Network
For over 39 years the Eastside Community Network (formerly Warren Conner Development Coalition) has worked tirelessly to develop programs and resources that center the needs of east side residents and amplify their voices with respect to the development of their communities. ECN spearheads initiatives that promote social cohesion, neighborhood sustainability, community participation, and resident empowerment. We envision the eastside of Detroit as a community of choice where residents can live, work, play and thrive.
About The City of Akron
Founded in 1825, the City of Akron began as a small canal town before making its mark on international industry with its rubber production in the 20th century, earning it the nickname “The Rubber Capital of the World.” Since then, Akron has developed into an All-America City, valuing community, inclusion and sustainability that continues to expand on its industrious roots with world-renowned innovations. Today, Akron is a city of nearly 200,000 residents and its local economy includes manufacturing, education, healthcare, and biomedical research. See here: akronohio.gov
About Macon-Bibb County
Macon-Bibb County is the fourth largest city in Georgia and its newest consolidated government. It was created on January 1, 2014, after a popular vote in July 2012, and it replaced the older, outdated, often contentious, and separate municipal and county governments.
The Macon-Bibb County consolidated government serves more than 157,000 residents, with nearly 30,000 more people driving in each day to work, eat, or shop. Thousands more travel through each day thanks to Interstates 75 and 16. The entire county serves as a regional hub for services, eating, shopping, entertainment, jobs, transportation, and more.
In January 2021, a new mayor, Lester Miller, began serving as the first new mayor in 13 years. Through a months-long process of forums, surveys, meetings, and more, he found the community’s top priorities to be: public safety; economic development; education & workforce development; diversity, equity, & inclusion; and recreation & tourism. In his first year, several successful initiatives have been launched, including the Brookdale Resource Center, Macon Mental Health Matters, the Blight Fight, Clean Streets Matter, and more.
About NewTown Macon
We are an independent nonprofit that focuses on economic development and revitalizing Downtown Macon. We make it safe and beautiful and fun and affordable. And we keep it local. We are located at 555 Poplar Street, Macon, GA 31201 and can be reached at (478) 722-9909. For more information, visit newtownmacon.com.
Centre for Public Impact