Urban Labs Crime Lab

We partner with cities and communities to use data and rigorous research to design, test and scale programs and policies that enhance public safety, improve educational outcomes, and advance justice.

Innovation for a Safe Chicago

The Crime Lab, Education Lab and Crime Lab New York work to have social impact by carrying out R&D in close collaboration with the public sector and community-based partners. We are committed to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in our work, and to fostering a workplace environment that is supportive of everyone on staff and dedicated to preventing workplace harassment and discrimination.

Innovation Fund for Safety, Justice, and Opportunity
Find out more

Our Theory of Change.

In cities across the country, people face high rates of gun violence, under-resourced schools, and social harms associated with the criminal justice system -- all of which disproportionately impact people of color. These inequalities have profound consequences on public safety and opportunity. Governments have failed to address them, in part, because their complexity makes it difficult to find effective and fair solutions that have a real impact on people’s lives.

The Crime Lab and Education Lab aim to fill this gap by combining world-class data science and research with a focus on real world results. We partner with public sector agencies to design, test, and implement evidenced-based programs and policies because improving the public sector is the only way to make progress at scale. Our goal is to have an outsized impact on our streets, in our schools, and in our courts to support neighborhoods that have been disproportionately suffered from these problems for decades.

Watch this video to see the progress we have made over the last ten years, and what we have in store for the next ten.

How We Work

We are charting a new course for how the world’s leading research universities can work in partnership with their home cities. We analyze policies and identify evidenced-based solutions to tackle today’s most pressing social challenges, through collaborations with faculty not just at the University of Chicago but at leading institutions around the country such as UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. As part of the University of Chicago, our projects and partnerships are subject to the university’s internal vetting procedures to ensure our work is ethical, transparent, rigorous, and objective. We have a responsibility to act urgently and always center the lived experience of the neighborhoods and people for whom we do this work first.

Impact Example: Reducing violence and improving graduation rates

The Becoming A Man program, a behavioral science-informed intervention for students that increased on-time high school graduation rates by 19% and cut arrests for violent crimes by up to 50%. BAM motivated the establishment of the Obama Administration’s My Brother’s Keeper program and led Chicago to redirect tens of millions of dollars to build on the strategy in the city’s most distressed neighborhoods.

Impact Example: Accelerating student learning to close achievement gaps

The Education Lab partnered with Saga Education to develop an education analog of personalized medicine that helps students who have fallen behind in math, a major barrier to on-time graduation.  The program helped students gain one to two-and-a-half years of additional learning through personalized tutoring, and based on its success, governments have over $27 million in expanding the program in Chicago, New York City, and across the country.

Impact Example: Reducing the harms of the criminal justice system

The Crime Lab has been working with New York City government to use data science to help achieve the city’s top criminal justice priority – closing the long-troubled Rikers Island jail – without compromising public safety.

Our People

Crime Lab staff partner with civic and community leaders to generate evidence on what works to tackle crime, violence, and the collateral costs the criminal justice system.

Load More

Discover more