The Urban Labs network will include the UChicago Crime and Urban Education labs, which already exist, along with three new labs in the areas of Health, Energy and Environment, and Poverty. Recognizing that many long-term urban challenges are interrelated, the initiative will pursue a multidisciplinary approach across all five areas to identify evidence-based solutions to a range of problems. Through the Urban Labs Innovation Challenge, the Pritzker gift, which is part of $15 million in seed funding received by the university for the initiative, also will fund pilot projects run by community groups, nonprofits, or government agencies aimed at translating research findings into tangible improvements at the community level. Successful applicants will receive as much as $1 million for up to two years, while Urban Labs researchers will work to identify the most promising approaches and engage practitioners who can help scale the interventions.
"A policy to reduce crime rates might also have a very significant impact on improving education, health, jobs, and poverty," said Timothy Knowles, chair of the university's Urban Education Institute, John Dewey Clinical Professor in the Committee on Education, and newly appointed Pritzker Director of the UChicago Urban Labs. "By doing this work in a unified and collaborative way, we can understand the impact of the policies in real time and implement what we learn in cities around the country and the world."
"The Pritzker Foundation sees philanthropic giving as an opportunity to make a difference in our community and in society," said Tom Pritzker, executive chair of the Hyatt Hotels Corp. and chair and CEO of the Pritzker Organization. "In the case of Urban Labs, we have an opportunity to do both."