The Brookings Institution Partnership Announcement

San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center Announces Multi-Year Partnership with The Brookings Institution

Multi-year partnership with The Brooking Institution is aimed at providing scalable local impact

SAN DIEGO (Sept. 27, 2021) – The San Diego Foundation and The Brookings Institution today announced the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center, a first-of-its-kind, long-term partnership focused on conducting place-based research and policy analysis to help address the region’s biggest problems and bring new federal infrastructure funding to the region.

The San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of The San Diego Foundation, builds partnerships to create cross-sector, multi-jurisdictional solutions to problems that require massive collective effort and extend beyond the reach of any single agency or department. These include regional challenges such as climate resilience, critical infrastructure, creating stable, high-paying jobs, homelessness, housing affordability and health equity.

“We have learned so much in the last 19 months as COVID-19 revealed some of our greatest structural challenges – health risks, economic instability and inequity of opportunity,” said Mark Stuart, President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “We recognize that a robust, equitable recovery will require us to address major structural problems. The Policy & Innovation Center and our alliance with The Brookings Institution is our response to the need for integrated, collaborative policy solutions to enable transformational systems change.”

Described by The Economist as “perhaps America’s most prestigious think tank” and consistently ranked as one of the top think tanks in the world, The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research, and based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public.

“San Diego County reflects our nation in many ways – it is a thriving economy in an urban-rural region, with a diverse population greater than 20 states,” said John R. Allen, President of The Brookings Institution. “Most importantly, San Diego’s local leaders recognize that our challenges are bigger than any single city, department or agency. I applaud them for stepping up to the moment and looking for ways to be both strategic and proactive.”

Brookings’s Metropolitan Policy Program scholars will work with local San Diego leaders to identify catalytic policies, programs, and interventions and help attract greater capital to the region. The team of scholars supporting the Policy & Innovation Center include Adie Tomer, Senior Fellow; Jenny Schuetz, Senior Fellow; and Joe Kane, Fellow.

“By joining forces with The Brookings Institution, the Policy & Innovation Center will grow regional consensus for systems change, test concepts to accelerate investment, serve as a bridge to federal opportunities, and codevelop new regional policy solutions with local government and stakeholders,” said Susan Guinn, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center.

The Policy & Innovation Center will be advised by a Government & Agency Advisory Council with representation from municipalities and government agencies within San Diego County. The Chair of the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors, Nathan Fletcher, will serve as the Chair of the Advisory Council.

“We know that data and research are most helpful when they are connected to better outcomes for

communities in need,” said Shalini Vajjhala, Executive Director of the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center. “Our immediate focus is supporting the recovery from the cascading effects of COVID-19. We are already co-designing new programs to bring large-scale federal recovery and infrastructure funds to the region by working with local municipalities and regional agencies.”

The Policy & Innovation Center team has alreadydeveloped more than $17 million in funding proposals to lay the groundwork forsignificant large-scale federal grants and projects to address critical needssuch as:

  • Aligning infrastructure to address digitalinequalities and explore where and how to extend costeffective broadbandservices to underserved community by aligning investment in streets and watersystem upgrades and integrating fire and flood risk monitoring for at-riskareas across the County.
  • Moving from utility bill relief tolong-term affordability and developing a model to help families who havebeen struggling to afford their water and electricity bills get propertyupgrades that improve affordability and regional sustainability.
  • Supporting emerging leaders in greeninfrastructure and working with national partners through a grantfundedprogram to increase the capacity of cities in federal grant writing, greeninfrastructure project delivery and equity-focused collaboration.

“Our region faces a tremendous opportunity as we recover from COVID-19 and build back better,” said Nathan Fletcher, Chair, San DiegoCounty Board of Supervisors. “The San Diego Regional Policy & InnovationCenter will help our region do just that, and address the underlying inequitiesthat have made a new policy outlook necessary. I am pleased to serve as Chairof the Advisory Council and make positive change in San Diego County.”

To immediately begin addressing the region’s issues,the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center will host a daylongconvening with Government & Agency Advisory Council members on Tuesday,Sept 28. Virtual events that day will include an opening session with centerleadership, presentations by The Brookings Institution Metropolitan PolicyProgram scholars, and a fireside chat with Amy Liu, Vice President and Directorwith the Brookings Institution, and Mark Cafferty, President & CEO of theSan Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. Convening meetingrecordings will be available on the Policy & Innovation Center website.

About the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center

The San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center is anew 501(c)(3) organization of The San Diego Foundation that develops, tests,and implements world-class research and policy-driven solutions to address SanDiego’s most pressing challenges. Learn more at

About The Brookings Institution

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization devotedto independent research and policy solutions. Its mission is to conducthigh-quality, independent research, and based on that research, to provideinnovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public. Learnmore at

About The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy andenables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region. Ourstrategic priorities include advancing racial and social justice, fosteringequity of opportunity, building resilient communities, and deliveringworld-class philanthropy to realize our vision of just, equitable and resilientcommunities. For more than 46 years, The Foundation and its donors have grantedmore than $1.3 billion to support nonprofit organizations strengthening ourcommunity. Learn more at