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
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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.

We partner with cities to help keep communities safe from gun violence. Many of the programs we design and test connect those who are most likely to be involved in gun violence with social services, job training and behavioral science-informed supports. We also work to improve law enforcement agencies by helping to implement necessary reforms, including those recommended by the Obama Administration Department of Justice as part of Chicago’s consent decree.

To see a list of our projects, click here.

We work to remedy the harms of America’s broken criminal justice system by developing and testing programs and tools that offer alternatives to policing and incarceration, limit racial disparities in pre-trial detention, and support individuals re-entering their communities. Our goal is to have an outsized impact on our streets and in our courts to support individuals and communities that have disproportionately suffered from the harms of our criminal justice system for decades.

To see a list of our projects, click here.

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.

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