The Bertelsmann Foundation, with generous support from the Open Society Foundations, partnered with the 100 Resilient Cities initiative (pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation) and the German Marshall Fund’s Urban and Regional Policy Program to conduct the Transatlantic Policy Lab. The lab convened a diverse group of American and European policymakers, practitioners and thought leaders to pursue innovative approaches to address the issue of social inequity.

Social inequity is a pressing concern for governments and individuals worldwide. Many governments have sought to address social inequity through national macroeconomic policies. However, the success of more localized approaches show that they are essential to effectively narrow the gap between rich and poor, and to improve access to opportunity for all. Since approximately 70 percent of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050, the next logical step in addressing social inequity must occur in close concert with cities.

The Transatlantic Policy Lab was charged with identifying and designing customized policy solutions for implementation in each pilot city. One American city (Boston) and one European city (Athens) were selected as pilot partners for assessment, analysis and policy implementation. The labs in Boston and Athens were designed to feed directly into each city’s resilience strategy, which is part of their participation in the 100 Resilient Cities network.


  • Understand the implications of social inequity in select U.S. and European cities

  • Uncover common drivers of social inequity on both sides of the Atlantic

  • Facilitate a richer trans-Atlantic dialogue on social inequity

  • Produce a policy document that lays out both neighborhood-level and citywide policy recommendations that feed into each city’s resilience strategy

    Download the Athens Report:

Download the Boston Report:

Project Elements

Lab Composition/Structure: Each city lab was composed of American and European policy experts drawn from a range of backgrounds. The lab participants were divided into two teams, each accompanied by local experts from the city. Each team of experts focused on one of two neighborhoods within each city.

On-Site Lab Sessions: Site visits and plenary sessions took place during a weeklong lab and allowed participants to convene and assess the dynamics of social inequity within each focus neighborhood.

Virtual Lab Sessions: Following the on-site visits, lab groups used conference calls to:

  • Refine target area recommendations
  • Complete post-lab research
  • Compile a survey of best practices
  • Refine and discuss best practices
  • Deliver their recommendations to Boston and Athens

Policy Recommendations: At the project’s conclusion, the Lab delivered its findings in a city recommendations memo for each city outlining the lab findings and recommendations. The city memos feature specific recommendations for improving social equity/economic opportunity in each focus neighborhood, and a review of best practices (policies and programs).

Implementation: Following the labs in Boston and Athens, the project collaborated with each city to integrate lab recommendations into their resilience strategy.

Project Phases


Anthony Silberfeld
Director, Transatlantic Relations
+1 202 384 1993

Jeffrey Brown
Manager, Future of Work & Artificial Intelligence
+1 202 384 1995

Project Partners