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Gratitude DC Survey Illuminates the Heart of Washington, D.C.

Survey reveals the places and services that foster community spirit, well-being, and pride

MOI logo with title

Mayor's Office of Innovation
News Release


Contact: Paul Elliott
[email protected]

A new interactive map resulting from the Gratitude DC survey unveils the places that hold special significance for Washington, D.C. residents. The survey, launched by the Mayor’s Office of Innovation (MOI), received responses highlighting 137 locations, showcasing a vibrant tapestry of community organizations, service providers, recreational spaces, and cultural landmarks. These cherished places give valuable insight into what truly matters to those who call D.C. home.

“The Gratitude DC survey offers an exceptional and inspiring window into the values that shape our city,” said the Innovation Team’s Dr. Lindsay Quarles. “It's a testament to the vital organizations, beautiful spaces, and dedication to community that make Washington, D.C. such a special place to live.”

Key findings of Places Highlighted in the Gratitude DC survey include:

  • Community Support is Key: Organizations like the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative and Friendship Place underscore D.C.'s strong network of support services dedicated to strengthening families, combating homelessness, and providing essential resources.
  • Investing in Youth: The Southeast Tennis and Learning Center demonstrates the District's commitment to youth development through opportunities for sports, education, and personal growth.
  • Addressing Basic Needs: So Others Might Eat (SOME) represents the District's unwavering efforts to fight hunger and homelessness, ensuring the well-being of its most vulnerable.
  • The Power of Nature: The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, and other green spaces, offer vital places for residents to connect with nature, promoting relaxation, exercise, and community.
  • Honoring Heritage: While the primary focus of survey responses centered on community-focused locations, the appreciation expressed suggests residents also deeply value D.C.'s unique cultural and historic sites.

What This Means for Washington, D.C.

The Gratitude DC survey paints a picture of a city dedicated to social responsibility, holistic well-being, environmental stewardship, and celebrating its rich history. These priorities, reflected in the places residents hold dear, contribute to a strong sense of community, pride, and shared purpose.

About the Mayor’s Office of Innovation (MOI):

Collaborating with District agencies, MOI focuses on evidence-based policies and best practices. It hosts the Innovation Team (i-team) which drives innovation, cultural change, and reliable results for residents. The i-team’s mission is to improve service delivery and enhance the digital experience for DC residents. MOI emphasizes research, data, technology, resourcefulness, and resident well-being.

Visit the Gratitude DC interactive map

The Gratitude Map but also the Gratitude home page and notes on the data methodology.

A Year of Innovation: Celebrating Progress and Looking Ahead

Members of the i-team with BCPI advisors Chaeny and Juliahna (From Left to right) BCPI Advisor Chaeny Emanavin, i-team Manager Paul Elliott, i-team Senior Project Manager Dr. Lindsay Quarles, i-team Director Jenny Kessler, i-team Service Designer Marie Lachance, i-team Web Developer Peter Varley, BCPI Advisor Juliahna Green

As we bid farewell to 2023, we take this moment to celebrate the remarkable strides made by the District government's innovation team (i-team). This year has been an incredible journey, filled with progress, challenges, and groundbreaking initiatives that have fundamentally reshaped how we think about government and community engagement.

A Hiring Landscape Transformed

Imagine a District government where the hiring process is not just efficient, but also inclusive and responsive to the needs of our diverse community. That's the vision that has driven the innovation team's tireless efforts this year. Through countless conversations with job seekers, brainstorming sessions with residents, and focused outreach to students at local HBCUs, the team has generated a vibrant bouquet of 138 innovative ideas to make hiring in D.C. more effective and welcoming than ever before. Now, the team is turning several of these ideas into active initiatives and programs.

A Digital Revolution

In the digital realm, the innovation team's work has transformed the website into a user-friendly haven for job seekers. By prioritizing accessibility and intuitive design, the team has ensured that navigating the job search process is smoother and more enjoyable for everyone.

Gratitude Powers DC

The "GratitudePowersDC" initiative has provided a powerful platform for residents from all corners of the District to share their experiences, highlight the people and stories that make living and working in D.C. unique and meaningful. The vibrant tapestry woven from these diverse voices paints a vivid picture of the District's spirit of community and gratitude.

Looking Ahead: A Brighter Future Awaits

As we turn the page to a new year, the innovation team shows no signs of slowing down. Phase II of our journey promises to be even more exciting, with a full-fledged HBCU recruitment program, a continuous evolution of the website, and a host of other initiatives designed to improve the lives of District residents.

In essence, the past year has been a masterclass in public service innovation. The team has actively listened, learned, and most importantly, acted upon those lessons, making real changes that have a positive impact on the lives of countless people. As we embark on 2024, we do so with a sense of optimism and excitement, knowing that together, we are building a brighter future for the District of Columbia.

Here's to innovation, to the dedication of the i-team, and to all the residents who have joined us on this incredible journey. Together, let's make 2024 a year to remember!

To learn more, you can read the innovation team’s most recent news bulletin.

Recognizing Interdependence:
Transforming Knowledge into Action

Panel discussion at the Action Roundtable

In a recent gathering at the Wilson Building in Washington, D.C., the pressing theme of "Recognizing Interdependence to Move Knowledge into Action" was illustrated in depth. Leading this discussion were esteemed partners from the globally recognized Johns Hopkins University, the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins, and Brandeis’ Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

Facilitating this transformative dialogue was Washington D.C.’s Innovation Team (i-team). Our mission was to shed light on the pivotal transition of how pioneering research and breakthrough innovations can be effectively translated into actionable policies, dynamic programs, and broader systemic changes within the urban landscape.

Read more…

National Media Highlights D.C.'s Groundbreaking
Public Service Initiative for HBCU Seniors

Mayor Muriel Bowser with the Presidents of Howard University and University of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (center) with Ben Vinson III, PhD, President of Howard University (left) and Maurice Edington, PhD, President of the University of the District of Columbia (right).

Black Enterprise Digital Media reports that Mayor Bowser unveiled at an international gathering of public administrators and policy makers, a distinctive initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) seniors, amplifying her Administration’s commitment to nurturing young talent and solidifying their roles in public service. This transformative program, announced at the 10th Bloomberg CityLab, and established in collaboration with Washington, D.C.’s two HBCUs, Howard University, and the University of the District of Columbia, seeks to forge a steadfast pathway for graduating seniors who are keen on dedicating their careers to public service.

Mayor Bowser emphasized the program's dual mission. “This initiative not only retains exceptional talent within D.C. but also aims to infuse fresh, young leadership into DC Government,” said Bowser. “We envision a future where the brightest minds, those fervently passionate about our community, choose DC Government as their platform to effectuate change. One person, one initiative, and one community at a time, we are paving the way for impactful transformations.”

The pragmatic approach of this program ensures its effectiveness. Several District government agencies have committed to transitioning 25 impending full-time positions into dedicated apprenticeships. Slated for launch in early 2024, these positions cater exclusively to graduating seniors, offering them unparalleled opportunities and exposure for one year. The only prerequisite: a genuine interest in serving and residing in D.C. Upon successful culmination of this apprenticeship, participants will be poised to ascend to heightened statuses within DC Government.

Prospective candidates can easily navigate the application process through the newly minted website, a testament to the relentless work of the i-team to enhance D.C. recruitment and hiring by lowering hurdles D.C. residents confront and streamlining the hiring process to reduce wait times from job posting to hire. The i-team’s mission: to reimagine and revolutionize the District Government’s hiring process is on full display with this innovative initiative directed at the District's HBCUs.

Mayor Bowser's program transcends its immediate objective, reflecting a broader national sentiment: a fervent belief in the unparalleled potential of HBCUs and their students, and the promise they hold for the future.

Read more at Black Enterprise…

The Tech Behind: Meet the folks powering DC’s i-team

What exactly has the district’s Innovation Team been up to in the two years since it was created?

The Innovation Team, also known as the i-team, was conceived in 2021 in a collaboration between Mayor Muriel Bowser and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The three-year initiative designated a group of folks to build new strategies for the city, working in three main phases: understanding the problem, generating and testing new ideas and delivering initiatives.

Read more…

Innovation in the Public Sector
Empowering Change for the Common Good

Students present their proposal at a youth idea generation session

In the public sector, resident engagement is a catalyst for driving innovation. The District government embraces the significance of involving the public in policymaking and service design to align decisions with the needs and aspirations of the people of Washington, D.C.

Read more…

In the News: D.C.’s Public Sector Innovators

South Texas Article - Jenny Kessler

The 2023 New Year continues to be busy for the District’s i-team within the executive office of Mayor Bowser’s Office of Policy & Innovation (MOPI). The District’s i-team, funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, is advancing its first project -- improving the building construction permitting process.

The i-team’s work continues to be fueled, in part, by the input from District agency personnel with responsibility for reviewing and approving permits, as well as from small business operators who bring first-hand experience with working with the District government as they start and expand their local businesses.

The i-team’s work is getting notice. This month, South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL) profiles Jenny Kessler, STCL ’12 alumni and MOPI Director.

Read more…

Innovator of the Week

Streamlining Article - Jenny Kessler

The District’s i-team receives star treatment by the digital communications channel, Bloomberg Cities Network powered by Johns Hopkins University.

Joining leading figures in public sector innovation, Jenny Kessler, D.C.'s i-team Director, earns the distinction of Innovator of the Week in the most recent edition of Bloomberg Cities Network.

Read more…