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Reflect and reimagine:

Learning from the work of our North America team in 2021

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What we learned in 2021

Because we are a learning partner, we think of our work as more than just individual projects. This means we regularly bring together what we learn, identify broader trends across our projects, and reflect on what it all means.

Reflect and reimagine explores those connections made by our North America office, and dives into key takeaways that public servants and organizations that work with government can implement to drive better outcomes for their communities.


Acting as a learning partner for government

In 2021, we were humbled that so many public servants opened up and joined us on the journey of reimagining government. In the face of tremendous hardships and complexities, these changemakers remained committed to improving life in their communities. They are the true heart of what we mean when we say that we believe in the positive potential of government.

Where we worked

In 2021, CPI in North America worked with 173 governments across the globe. In addition to those pictured, we worked with 40 governments outside of the United States.

Our programs and partners

Failing Forward in Local Government

A year-long program that supports governments’ ability to spark and sustain cultures of innovation. Failing Forward applies a top-down and bottom-up approach to spark and sustain culture changes

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Innovation Track

A capacity-building track of the Bloomberg-Harvard City Leadership Initiative that expands cities’ ability to think outside the box and more effectively tackle challenging problems by putting residents at the center of designing and testing new ideas. In 2021, 11 cities and 96 core team members benefited from the Innovation Track.

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Innovation Training Program

A program where interdisciplinary city teams build core innovation capacities as they design, test, and prototype solutions to a pressing city problem. In 2021, 12 cities representing 84 departments received Innovation Training.

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Global Mayors Challenge

A yearlong competition that challenged hundreds of cities to submit their most innovative solutions to a pressing urban challenge. In 2021, the Challenge went global, with 600+ cities from around the world working to address challenges made worse by COVID-19.

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Earned Legitimacy Learning Cohort

A 10-week program designed and executed by CPI where cities and counties work to address past harms experienced by marginalized communities, understand and dismantle inequitable power dynamics, and rebuild more legitimate systems.

Pandemic Solutions Group

A network of public officials from 21 states, 28 localities, and six community partners devoted to rapidly scaling COVID-19 testing, tracing, masking, and vaccination, while ensuring equitable distribution and access.

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The Opportunity Project for Cities

An 18-week sprint where cities leverage public data, technology, and community input to address community challenges. In 2021, Saint Paul and San José focused on housing-related challenges caused or exacerbated by COVID-19.

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Inclusive Economies Government Listening Series

A series of 30 interviews conducted by CPI with 12 local governments to understand their most significant roadblocks to building inclusive economies and explore how CPI and other changemakers can best support them.

Our three key takeaways

Governments must make significant internal culture shifts to work better and best serve the public.

  • Governments must make significant changes to how they work - taking a step back from the status quo to reflect on their internal culture, priorities, and definitions of success.

  • Governments should examine their role in the community and intentionally build partnerships to fill gaps.

Governments must center relationships and share power to understand community challenges and create solutions.

  • Communities are better served when we push governments to prioritize building relationships as a part of our programming.

  • Building relationships to the point where you can cocreate with residents, rather than simply gain resident feedback, is a long-term effort that will be challenging.

Organizations that support governments must intentionally design programs around learning and adapting to local contexts.

  • Before programming kicks off focus curriculum on solving relevant issues, invest in setting up a strong core team, adapt the curriculum to the local context, and consider how technology can benefit programming.

  • During programming build infrastructure for reflection and learning, vary the structure of meetings and workshops, be prepared to adapt, and seek regular feedback.

Download our report

Are you a public servant? Do you work with governments? Download our report for specific recommendations to help you drive better outcomes for your community, gleaned from our work with 173 governments in 2021.

Also, learn more about the programs we were a part of and a sneak peek at what's coming next for CPI in North America

Download our report


Join the conversation

How can we take what we learned in 2021 to help our communities in 2022? Let's #ReflectAndReimagine and help bring community and people-centred solutions to local governments
It's a new year - a time to #ReflectAndReimagine on what we learned in 2021. Join the Centre for Public Impact in North America as we take stock of the lessons learned from our work with 173 governments
Are you a public servant? Do you work with governments? Check out #ReflectAndReimagine for recommendations to help drive better outcomes for your community