In 2004, Mark Batson, Randell McShepard, and Timothy Goler created a think tank that would focus on public policy issues affecting African American and other underserved communities. The creation of the think tank as an organization in Northeast Ohio was the result of years of discussion and frustration about the lack of response by the public, independent and private sectors to a plethora of issues that negatively impacted life in communities of color, ethnic language, financially distressed and economically polarized communities. So in 2005, PolicyBridge was formed with three founders acting as operational leaders and fourteen public and community policy content experts serving as a Board of Directors.
During the 10 years since its inception, PolicyBridge has developed a unique niche in the area of public policy research, analysis and evaluation. PolicyBridge is one of the few public policy “think tanks” that focuses on the concerns and issues impacting African American and other underserved communities. PolicyBridge dissects these concerns and issues in a way that demonstrates that public policy can be a most effective tool that can lead to systemic change and improve opportunities for African American and other underserved communities.
PolicyBridge believes that community change usually occurs from the bottom to the top, not from the top to the bottom. We also believe that public policy decisions drive the creation, funding and implementation of programmatic responses to the issues and challenges confronting our cities and the people residing in them. So to effectively improve the quality of life for all citizens and the environments they reside in, we must develop innovative policy solutions that include significant input and buy-in by those that will be impacted by the policy solutions. This means that we must develop citizens’ skills and competencies to meet the challenges they confront to positively change their environments.
PolicyBridge asserts that programs that are especially plentiful in urban core areas, can only be created and/or sustained if public policies are created, continuously reviewed and revised to support them. PolicyBridge through its work, not only identifies the need for specific policies to be developed, refined and/or revised, but uses data and offers position statements with a goal of enhancing policies for the benefit of African American and other underserved communities.
Today, PolicyBridge is a research and advocacy think tank that prompts and sustains high quality discourse about public policy issues affecting African Americans and other underserved communities to enlighten citizens and catalyze action. PolicyBridge focuses its policy work in the following content areas: economic development; urban education; health and wellness; community development and revitalization; social justice; cultural diversity, inclusion and equity; and workforce development. Our core programmatic activity areas are: public policy research, analysis and evaluation; issue advocacy; public/citizen education, civic engagement and capacity building; developing and engaging in strategic partnerships; and fostering emerging leader development.