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Since its founding in 1988, the Howard Samuels State Management and Policy Center has become an important source for comparative state and city research and political analysis.

In the past two decades, the roles of state and local governments have increased greatly as federalist policies are pursued and power is devolved away from the federal government to more local structures. As a result, the need for applied research on state and city level policy and politics has never been greater. The Samuels Center works to fulfill that need by publishing reports on politics and policy on the state and city level.

Our mission is to advance and promote democracy by focusing on those areas of research and public policy that increase access and participation to the political process, and foster equity and quality of services for marginalized groups. Center research emphasizes education, welfare policy, community development, empowerment zones, and youth organizing. The role of community based organizations is central to the policy research in each area. The Center also takes an active role in expanding democratic discourse by convening conferences and seminars on these topics then publishing and disseminating their results.

In addition, the Samuels Center places a high priority on training researchers and scholars, and in an effort to promote diversity in the social sciences, the Samuels Center has made a point of seeking out talented women and minority scholars interested in urban policy. The Center has provided dozens of graduate students the opportunity to get hands-on experience doing original research in the field as well as writing and publishing reports and journal articles while supporting their attainment of a post graduate degree. 

The Howard Samuels Center, by employing graduate students on its research projects, helps students finance their education while providing them with invaluable practical experience in urban research. This experience furthers the students' careers while ensuring that there will be a diverse work force devoted to urban issues that relate to democracy. 

Howard Samuels, described by New York Governor Mario Cuomo as "a compassionate man who possessed a unique sense of humanity and an intelligent, practical view of business and government," moved from a successful business career to one in government.  He served as Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the Small Business Administration during the Johnson and Carter Administrations, and was the first President and Chairman of the Board of NYOTB.  In all his government positions, Samuels made it his priority to employ people marginalized by race, gender, and disability.  Samuels was dedicated to fundamental reform, the advancement of the rights of the marginalized, and to combating racism, to these ends serving on numerous commissions, boards and committees.  "Howard cared about causes and people," says New York City Mayor David Dinkins, "all people, but particularly those less fortunate."  The HowardSamuels Center was named after him, and continues his lifelong commitment to justice for all.