Miners learning to code. Making the countryside cool. Savings accounts for kindergartners.

Amid the global news agenda’s drumbeats of doom, it’s easy to miss smart ideas like these. But across the USA cities, states and federal government are doing striking, innovative work that’s ripe for replication.

Apolitical is a global learning platform for government, helping to spread the best ideas from public servant to public servant. In this introductory series, we’ve pulled together some of the sharpest US policy ideas aimed at slashing inequality and getting people into work.

Across the ten articles, we’ve deliberately explored a range of themes, but here’s three key points to watch out for:

Collaboration is key. Tackling complex problems requires multifaceted solutions, and often that means working across teams, agencies, or sectors. Cleveland’s answer to getting ex-offenders into work saw the city co-operating with socially responsible businesses. San Francisco’s saving for college scheme brought the mayor’s office together with the local education authorities and a big corporation — Citibank.

Measure the right things. Measurement and evaluation isn’t the sexiest topic out there. But if you want to move the dial on important issues, you need to make sure you’ve got the correct data. Sometimes, that means coming up with whole new systems, as Santa Monica did when it became the world’s first city to measure its residents’ wellbeing. Or it can mean looking differently at the data you have. In Denver, the city noticed that small, high-end craft manufacturers were springing up, and considered what it could do to help them.

See the potential in everyone. Too often, whole sections of a population are prevented from making their full contribution to the labour market. But some of the ideas we showcase brought these overlooked groups to the fore. In Atlanta, the city came up with a widely-replicated way of connecting new immigrants to social and economic opportunities. And in Appalachia, a partnership aimed at bringing new tech jobs to the region retrained former coal miners so they could compete for those opportunities on an equal footing.

We hope you enjoy the series, and that you go on explore the rest of Apolitical. If you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to email us at hello@apolitical.co.