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What we do

Research insights for government impact

The California Policy Lab generates research insights for government impact. Through hands-on partnerships with government agencies, CPL performs rigorous research across issue silos and builds the data infrastructure necessary to improve programs and policies that millions of Californians rely on every day. We focus our work in six policy areas: education, criminal justice reform, poverty and the social safety net, labor and employment, health, and homelessness and high needs populations.

Local and state governments are often at the cutting edge of innovative policymaking. Though they collect substantial administrative data about their programs and the people they serve, they often lack the resources, data infrastructure, and rigorous research expertise they need to evaluate success and to inform future policy decisions.  We help fill these gaps by bringing experts from the country’s top public universities and a secure platform for data and policy analysis.

Our projects are guided by the problems that our government partners wish to solve. And we believe that relevant empirical analysis needs to move at the speed of policymaking. Generous support from our funders allows us to choose projects based on impact rather than cost.

People are at the center of what we do.  We want to unlock the ability for governments to understand and better address the individuals and families they serve.

For our government partners, we help by providing:

  • Access to renowned experts
  • Relevant and timely analysis
  • Objective program evaluations
  • Safe and secure data infrastructure

For affiliated researchers, we help by providing:

  • Relationships with government partners
  • Policy-relevant research projects
  • Knowledge and documentation of California’s administrative data
  • A safe and secure Data Hub for analysis
  • A legal infrastructure that shortens project timelines

We are committed to equity in our work and our impacts

We recognize that ongoing systemic racism and structural inequality in California and our nation are direct results of exclusionary public policies, both past and present. We also recognize that the history and ongoing implementation of social science research and public policy includes many practices that are shameful, racist, and harmful. The California Policy Lab is committed to confronting systemic racial and ethnic inequities through our work, and also recognizes the importance and intersectionality of other inequities, including gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and poverty. We aim to create a culture that is welcoming and inclusive and that enables staff members from all backgrounds to thrive. In our work, we engage in self-examination, internal and external dialogue, and action to promote equity. We incorporate our recognition of structural racism in our research, practice, and organizational culture, and we examine and strive to root out bias in data collection, analysis, and policy. Toward these ends, we have an ongoing organization-wide process to investigate how to address these issues at CPL and in our work.

Our funding partners

The California Policy Lab is proud to have generous support from the following partners.



The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A220451 to The Regents of the University of California. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

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