Every day, cities across the country confront complex, interconnected issues—spanning health, housing, workforce development, and climate change. Municipal leaders have the power to bring about transformative progress toward health and equity in their communities but often don’t have the opportunity or resources to explore the root causes or gather evidence that could support the policy and systems changes needed to advance equity in their communities.

To respond to these challenges, the National League of Cities’ (NLC’s) Cities of Opportunity (CoO) program partnered with the Urban Institute to develop a new Policy and Systems Change Compass process (“Compass”). CoO and Urban then partnered with three cities—Dubuque, Iowa; Roanoke, Virginia; and Tacoma, Washington—to pilot the Compass.

The final Compass process takes municipal teams on a journey across 10 steps that supports identifying and implementing strategic, evidence-based policy solutions to complex problems.

So how can cities apply some of the Compass best practices to their policy work? Here are a few key steps from the Compass:

  • Identify root causes
  • Set population goals and desired systems changes
  • Map the policy ecosystem
  • Assess the feasibility and potential of policy options

Read the full article about solving complex problems through policy by Martha Fedorowicz and Sarah Weller Pegna at Urban Institute.