Brown University

Welcome to The Policy Lab

We’re at the center of Rhode Island’s
infrastructure for evidence-based policymaking.

Let’s learn together.

Why We’re Here

The Policy Lab brings together experts from government, universities, and community organizations to collaborate on research tailored to inform decisions about how to improve policies and programs across the state.


Learn more about our work across state, local, and national partners

How much does a letter campaign increase willingness to get a COVID-19 test?

How do we optimize the COVID-19 testing experience?

How can a 9-page template transform a $10 billion budget?

How can we expand the reach of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in Rhode Island?

What are behavioral scientists doing about COVID-19?

Will you let a robot give you a ride?


Welcome to Reflections

I’m excited to welcome y’all to Reflections!

The Making of Dashboard - Part 4: Refinements and Stakeholder Feedback

In the previous post we discussed general design patterns that put Vue and d3 together. This post will focus on how we improved the UI/UX design of the first prototype (shown above) according to the feedback from the UWRI team and the rest of The Policy Lab team. We will also discuss the improvements that made the site faster and more responsive.

The Making of Dashboard - Part 3: Rendering the Visualizations

In this post, we will cover the details in creating the data visualizations used in the United Way Rhode Island 211 Dashboard to reveal patterns in 211 calls. The previous post described in detail the overall architecture of the app and how data is persisted as state in the Vue app. This post focuses more on the gotchas using d3.js to create interactive data visualizations.

The Making of Dashboard - Part 2: Building the Skeleton of the App

In the previous post, we covered the background and the decisions on the tech stack used for the United Way Rhode Island 211 dashboard. This post will describe how we used Vue.js to build the architecture of the dashboard based on the design of Ben Guhin Delphine in the featured image above.

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Applied research can be remarkably difficult, as theories often fail to work in practice. We need scientists shoulder-to-shoulder with practitioners in those moments, co-designing fresh ideas and iteratively experimenting to optimize solutions. The Policy Lab is a place and group of people dedicated to this work. Think NASA or Bell Labs, but for public policy.
David Yokum, Director

Theory of Change

It is common nowadays to agree that policy should be evidence-based. But how to deliver on that rhetoric in practice is harder. We need not only the highest quality scientific methods, but also a pragmatic mindset geared toward designing learning agendas that can concretely inform decision-making within the bureaucratic and political trenches.

We look to improve policy outcomes through three interconnected areas:

Generating evidence to fill knowledge gaps

Integrating that evidence into planning, budget, procurement, and performance management processes

Building coalitions across government, universities, and community organizations to support evidence-based policy

While many approaches to this work focus on one or two areas at a time, building a culture of evidence-based policymaking requires us to pursue all three simultaneously. We need a substantial amount of stakeholder engagement throughout the entire research process — from carefully listening to and observing what questions most need answering, to helping partners troubleshoot any unanticipated implementation issues based on the generated answers.

The partnership is also a vehicle for increasing staff training and capacity by way of onsite trainings and courses, fellowships, speaker and event series, curating a statewide integrated data system, and other activities to foster a community of practice around the work.

Our Team

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30,000 Leagues

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