A Catalyst for Social Justice

We are a regional research and advocacy organization dedicated to racial, social, and economic equity. We work to hold institutions and systems accountable to community needs.

Our mission is to eliminate persistent poverty in the Bay Area by working with partners to transform low-income neighborhoods into vibrant, healthy communities.

Urban Strategies Council also offers consulting services. Find out more about what we offer you here.

More About Us:

  • Founded in 1987, Urban Strategies Council has focused on improving outcomes for children and families in Oakland and the entire East Bay for more than 32 years.

  • We believe that the conditions required to eliminate persistent poverty include high-quality education, sustainable-wage employment, community health and safety, and affordable housing.
  • We act as a convener, facilitator, advocate, source of rigorous research and analysis, and catalyst, increasing the ability of government, community groups, non-profits and businesses to build thriving communities.
  • We believe that collective action, propelled by accurate, relevant, and timely data is critical to achieving the social change we envision.

“Urban Strategies Council is a trusted voice in our city, one that does not compromise on principle and that works tirelessly across silos and institutions to connect efforts that would otherwise be isolated, disconnected initiatives with less impact.”
Mayor Libby Schaaf, City of Oakland


People and Data

Because Urban Strategies Council is not a single-issue organization, we are able to think and work holistically across silos, sectors, and jurisdictions. We partner with public agencies, grassroots organizing groups, and philanthropic organizations to catalyze lasting social change. In order to move the needle on persistent poverty, we need to change the systems that are currently ineffective, and so we focus  on reforming the systems that serve low-income communities.

We work with community stakeholders to build strategies and capacities for effective collective action.  We recognize that sustainable change involves not only developing these capacities, but also requires the exercise of leadership to build a common agenda for change that will improve outcomes for children and families.  Urban Strategies Council works to build partnerships and alliances across a wide array of community interests and is proactive in identifying issues that impact urban communities, building understanding of the issues, and crafting agendas to address those issues.

Key values for bringing about equitable systems change:

  • We listen first, to all voices.
  • We consider root causes, not just symptoms or outcomes.
  • We consider data to be critical to understanding, but not all important.

Data Driven

Many of our projects begin with data mining and analyses of large datasets we use in our regular work. These datasets may reveal a new trend in foreclosure acquisition or a recent spike in particular crimes. From a data-driven starting point we can start to build out a project scope to analyze the problem and, with further research into promising practices, begin to form policy or community-based solutions.

Collaboration Driven

Often our new projects and initiatives arise from collaboration. When we convene people from multiple organizations and sectors, we find that conversation can surface new insights into problems worth pursuing. By working together with decision makers and community stakeholders, we can develop multi-faceted solutions and support new ideas all the way through to implementation.

“As a public figure I appreciate and rely on Urban Strategies Council to hold the public sector accountable and to achieve effective public policy.”
Supervisor Nate Miley, Alameda County