Mayor's Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives

About the Office of Innovation

Henry Fitts, Director The Office of Innovation is focused on helping the City deliver efficient and first-rate services and promoting exceptional quality of life for its residents. The Office achieves this by empowering the City’s departments, agencies, businesses, and residents through insights from data, GIS mapping, historical research, and public engagement. Building on these insights, the Office of Innovation helps to deliver new initiatives and improvements to City operations to drive measurable change.

Innovation is a problem-solving approach that starts with gaining a deep understanding of the problem. Only once this is achieved, the Office begins to evaluate solutions. Innovation also emphasizes research on historical efforts in Rochester, how other Cities address the issues we share, and how can adapt these strategies to match our unique context in Rochester today. 

Henry Fitts, Director
Mayor’s Office of Innovation
30 Church St Room 222B
Rochester, NY 14614
henry.fitts@cityofrochester.gov

Our Work

The Office of Innovation’s early focus has been on issues of poverty in Rochester. More specifically, the Office of Innovation provides support through data and engagement to understand the drivers of poverty - concentrating on joblessness in distressed neighborhoods. The Office has more recently shifted  focus towards internal City of Rochester initiatives focused on process improvement and data strategy that will make resident interactions with City Government quicker, easier, and more user-friendly. Process improvement will ensure that tax-payer dollars are being used as efficiently as possible by implementing innovative cost-saving approaches

Bridges to Success Program Evaluation

The Office of Innovation supported evaluation design and secured grant funding for one of RMAPI’s first pilot programs, Bridges to Success. BtoS pairs enrollees with a mentor to help them meet goals on their way to self-sufficiency such as high school equivalency, training, employment, budgeting, and housing goals. 

Learn more here

Kiva Crowdfunded Microloans

The Office of Innovation helped design, launch, and continues to operate The Kiva Rochester program.

  • 0% interest business loans, no fees, $1,000-$10,000
  • Terms 12- 36 months
  • No minimum credit score
  • Unique “Social Underwriting” during application review
  • Crowdfunded by individual lenders investing $25 at a time
  • Learn more here>>

RMAPI Door-to-door Survey

Office of Innovation developed and implemented a door to door survey in partnership with neighborhood stakeholders and the Flower City AmeriCorps program. The survey focused on resident's barriers to employment, and perceptions of services in the neighborhoods intended to help families achieve economic mobility. The team completed 444 surveys door to door and an additional 168 online and at neighborhood meetings.

Vanpool

A Vanpool is a group of up to 12 commuters who voluntarily participate in a rideshare arrangement. The van makes just one trip to a workplace and one trip home during the day. Vans are driven by a volunteer driver who is also commuting to work. The Office of Innovation secured more than $300,000 in CMAQ grant funding to operate commuter vanpools that have allowed chronically unemployed residents to sustain long-term employment.

Bike-share Mayor Warren riding a Zagster bikeshare bicycle

The Office of Innovation partnered with Zagster to launch the City’s bike-share program. According to data compiled by Zagster, the first season’s ridership translated to a total of almost 4 million burned calories; more than $63,000 of incremental spending Downtown; and 9,120 fewer single-occupancy car trips for a diversion of 3,100 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

 OWN Rochester (Market Driven Community Cooperatives)

The Office of Innovation is driving wealth-creation in economically challenged parts of our community through worker-owned, cooperative businesses. The Office of Innovation helped launch the non-profit OWN Rochester and roll out MDCC’s first businesses which is provide employees with living wages and equity.

Report: Wage Disparities in Monroe County

The Mayor's Office of Innovation and the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative released a study in 2017 on wage disparities in Monroe County, showing that minorities are over-represented in Monroe County’s lowest paying and largest industries. Mayor Warren is calling on business and community leaders to help find ways to bring equity to the workforce, starting with the health care industry. Click here to download the report.

Report: Unmarried and Single Parents in Poverty

The Mayor's Office of Innovation and the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) released a study in December 2019 analyzing demographics and socioeconomic inequities for single and unmarried parents. This household type accounts for over half of all people in poverty in the city of Rochester and is a key target population for RMAPI and focus of next phase of strategy. This report is intended to inform not just RMAPI, but all initiatives, organizations, and institutions in Monroe County who are working towards our community’s goal of reducing poverty by 50 percent in 15 years. Click here to download the report. 

Reports