The EffectiveNY Howard Samuels Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public policy think tank dedicated to finding and implementing innovative solutions to make government better. Founded in 1981, it is currently chaired by longtime reform leader Bill Samuels.
The organization’s early work centered on research and education around national progressive issues, especially the corrosive effect of money on politics, which remains a top concern for EffectiveNY today.
The centerpiece of EffectiveNY’s current agenda is its Retirement Security for All (RSFA) initiative, which aims to create the first ever city-run retirement savings program for private sector workers—essentially the public option. RSFA tackles head-on the crisis faced by the 60 percent of people in the New York City metropolitan area who currently have no access to a retirement plan through their employers and the estimated 700,000 seniors, who will be living at or near poverty in the city by 2040.
EffectiveNY has long been a thought leader in devising a bold vision for improving government and politics. In 2004 the organization published What We Stand For: A Program for Progressive Patriotism, which grew out of a dinner we held after the 2002 midterm elections attended by President Bill Clinton, and featured contributions from former U.S. Senator Gary Hart, Peter Orszag, who would go on to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and then Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Anne-Marie Slaughter.
After the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, the organization followed up with Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President. Edited by Mark Green, the book included sections authored by then Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, now a U.S. Supreme Court Justice; former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta; current U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew; and many others.
Among the foundations that have supported EffectiveNY are The Samuel Rubin Foundation, The Ploughshares Fund, The Harman Family Foundation, the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Fund for the Public Interest, the Open Society Institute, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and The Arca Foundation.
In recent years, the organization’s work has continued to champion reform, shifting its attention primarily to improving New York. In 2013, EffectiveNY co-organized the “Money Out, Voters In” day of action on the anniversary of the Citizens United decision. The main event of that day was a public rally at NYU featuring speakers from the reform, labor, and other progressive movements.
Now with a major commitment to ensuring New York has the best state and municipal governments in the nation, the EffectiveNY Howard Samuels Policy Center has conducted groundbreaking research and spearheaded education projects around campaign finance reform (working in support of the Fair Elections for New York campaign), on redistricting (in partnership with Professor Gerald Benjamin, the director of the State University of New York’s Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach), and on legislative pay and the need for a dedicated state Legislature.
In addition to its Retirement Security for All initiative, EffectiveNY is currently tackling the issues of inequality in education funding, how to reduce property taxes through fixing the way New York funds Medicaid, and fundamentally changing the way Albany works through rallying the public to support a state constitutional convention in 2017.