Our Vision, Mission, and Values


We envision a world where every person’s needs are met and each individual has equal opportunity to learn, grow, and lead a fulfilling life.


The Policy Innovation Lab offers students educational and hands-on experiences that develop the skills and understanding necessary to create policy that serves and responds to the needs of communities. The Lab participates in strategic partnerships with organizations and community members in Washington, D.C.’s Wards 7 & 8 that engage students in policy research, analysis, formulation, and advocacy. We do our work with an intentional focus on concerns of racial equity and social justice, respect for communities and our place in their ongoing work, integrity in fulfilling our commitments, and innovation in taking new approaches to policy problems.


Racial Equity

Racial Equity exists when a person’s future cannot be predicted by race. Structural and systemic racism are largely responsible for the concentration of poverty and related harms among black people in Wards 7 and 8. We are thoughtful, intentional, and explicit when considering the impacts of race and racism in the communities we serve.

Social Justice

We support equitable political, economic, and social structures that promote justice for each member of our society. It is essential to understand intersectionality between systems of power and privilege that result in different outcomes according to one’s distinct identities.

Respect for Communities

The residents of Wards 7 & 8 should determine the future of their respective communities. The Policy Innovation Lab is committed to learn from stakeholders through empathy and active listening. This commitment acknowledges the Lab’s unique composition of graduate students willing to challenge divisive structures.


The Policy Innovation Lab is committed to transparency through the sharing of goals, processes, and limitations with student members and community partners. The Lab is flexible, willing to adjust its work and practices based on actively solicited feedback. Transparency and flexibility ensure accountability, sustainability, and responsiveness as the Lab evolves.


The Lab acknowledges its privilege, and positions community engagement at the center of its work. We are not experts, but we are committed to listening and learning from partners with direct experience and knowledge of the communities in Wards 7 and 8. We remain willing to critically engage with our beliefs, approaches, and goals — as well as the opinions, ideas, and information that we encounter as we move forward. The beliefs, approaches, and goals we hold are the result of critical engagement with stakeholders, and members commit to evaluating their preconceived opinions as the result of humble community engagement.


Conventional approaches may not resolve complex issues, so the Lab focuses on finding new strategies, theoretical approaches, and practices to solve seemingly intractable problems. We do not promote ideas because they are novel or new, but focus on intentional approaches and policies that place people and their communities at the center of the policymaking process.