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FROM PEOPLE YOU CAN TRUST

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Working Well Together in Milwaukee

Data You Can Use Population Health Service Fellow, Salma Abadin, worked with the Healthier, Safer, More Prosperous Milwaukee leadership team to create an inventory to document current services and to potentially identify other partners and resources in the Milwaukee area. The inventory – Working Well Together: The Intersection of Public Health, Safety and Community Development in Milwaukee, WI – is the result of agencies and programs that were invited to complete a survey that describes their work and the partners they have in community/economic development, criminal justice/safety, and healthcare/public health.

The Wisconsin Center for Health Equity has the report on it’s website.  With any questions, please contact Salma Abadin.

Safer, More Prosperous Milwaukee Inventory page

Your City Needs a Local Data Intermediary Now

Matt Lawyue and Kathryn L.S. Pettit
*This post was originally posted at NextCity.org, May 31, 2016

Imagine if every community nationwide had access to their own data — data on which children are missing too many days of school, which neighborhoods are becoming unaffordable, or where more mothers are getting better access to prenatal care.

This is a reality in some areas, where neighborhood data is analyzed to evaluate community health and to promote development. Cleveland is studying cases of lead poisoning and the impact on school readiness and educational outcomes for children. Detroit is tracking the extent of property blight and abandonment.

But good data doesn’t just happen.

These activities are possible because of local intermediaries, groups that bridge the gap between data and local stakeholders: nonprofits, government agencies, foundations and residents. These groups access data that are often confidential and indecipherable to the public and make them accessible and useful. And with the support of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), groups around the country are championing community development at the local level.

Without a local data intermediary in Baltimore, we might know less about what happened there last year and why.

Freddie Gray’s death prompted intense discussion about police brutality and discrimination against African-Americans. But the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) helped root this incident and others like it within a particular place, highlighting what can happen when disadvantage is allowed to accumulate over decades.

BNIA, an NNIP member, was formed in 2000 to help community organizations use data shared by government agencies. By the time of Gray’s death, BNIA had 15 years of data across more than 150 indicators that demonstrated clear socioeconomic disadvantages for residents of Gray’s neighborhood, Sandtown-Winchester. The neighborhood had a 34 percent housing vacancy rate and 23 percent unemployment. The neighborhood lacks highway access and is poorly served by public transit, leaving residents cut off from jobs and services.

With BNIA’s help, national and local media outlets, including the New York Times, MSNBC and the Baltimore Sun portrayed a community beset by concentrated poverty, while other Baltimore neighborhoods benefited from economic investment and rising incomes. BNIA data, which is updated yearly, has also been used to develop policy ideas to revitalize the neighborhood, from increasing the use of housing choice vouchers to tackling unemployment.

Local data intermediaries like BNIA harness neighborhood data to make underserved people and unresolved issues visible. They work with government agencies to access raw data (e.g., crime reports, property records, and vital statistics) and facilitate their use to improve quality of life for residents.

But it’s not easy. Uncovering useful, actionable information requires trust, technical expertise, knowledge of the local context and coordination among multiple stakeholders.

This is why the NNIP is vital. NNIP is a peer network of more than two dozen local data intermediaries and the Urban Institute, working to democratize data by building local capacity and planning joint activities. Before NNIP’s founding partners, there were no advanced information systems documenting and tracking neighborhood indicators. Since 1996, NNIP has been a platform for sharing best practices, providing technical assistance, managing cross-site projects and analysis, and expanding the outreach of local data intermediaries to national networks and federal agencies. The partnership continues to grow. In order to foster this capacity in more places, NNIP has just released a guide for local communities to start a data intermediary.

When used properly, data can reveal patterns within anecdotes, suggest potential solutions and validate the lived experiences of people too often overlooked. As open data efforts spread, government agencies will release more and more data to the public. Local data intermediaries will be even more valuable in helping users sort through the data to surface, explain and address the issues distressed communities face.

Matt Lawyue is a communications associate with the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, and Kathryn L.S. Pettit is a senior research associate with the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, at the Urban Institute. Pettit is also the director of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership.

Engaging in Conversation: Documenting how 1 Meal Program is Serving More Than Food

Cross Lutheran is a church in Milwaukee’s central city, and its Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry (BOHEM) offers a meal program and food pantry, serving Milwaukee residents who experience poverty and hunger. Funders were interested in BOHEM’s measurable outcomes and the program’s impact. Program staff and volunteers worked to co-create an interview tool that could be administered by trained volunteers from other congregations who serve food at the meal program and pantry. “Guests” of the pantry participated in the interviews and talked about changes in their lives because of their involvement in BOHEM programming and services. As a result of the survey, BOHEM found ways to improve their communication about available services, volunteers from other congregations began to think more critically about what partnership and collaboration mean, and guests noted the importance of the resources being more than a source for food, but also an opportunity to give back or pay it forward. For all involved, it provided the opportunity to have a deeper conversation about racism, poverty and privilege.

Slide 12- Hunger Equity presentation
A summary of this work was recently presented at the Hunger Summit, hosted by Feeding Wisconsin, in May 2016 in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. If you’d like more information or a copy of the presentation, please contact Salma Abadin.

Events of Interest

Neighborhood Data: What’s Happening in Other Cities?*
Wednesday, June 15th, 10:00, Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Highlights from the most recent National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership meeting in San Antonio. Find out what ‘s happening in partner cities that are concerned about using data to improve neighborhoods. Katie Pritchard, from Data You Can Use, will provide a summary of resources and possibilities that may be of interest to you and your neighborhood work.  This will be provided for staff from Healthy Neighborhoods and may be open to others with interest.

For more information, contact Darlene Russell at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.


 Who’s in your neighborhood? – Using the American FactFinder*
Zilber School of Public Health on Thursday June 16th from 9:00—11:30.

Gain experience in using the US Census Bureau’s American FactFinder data access tool. Learn about what data are available, how to access the data sets, and how to use the data to inform decisions in your neighborhood. The training will be led by Salma Abadin and Carrie Koss Vallejo of Data You Can Use in partnership with the Nonprofit Center. Participants are welcome to bring their laptops or use the computers in the facility. This will be “hands on” training primarily for CDBG agencies.

For more information, contact Joyce Mallory at the Nonprofit Center.


 Map for Free?  A look at Open Source Mapping*
Thursday July 14th from 9:00—11:00 at the Zilber School for Public Health

This open source mapping training is an opportunity to learn best practices which can be applied across tools, with an opportunity to apply them using MapBox Studio.  The training will be led by Carrie Koss Vallejo and Salma Abadin of Data You Can Use in partnership with the Nonprofit Center.  By the end of the session, attendees will have created a resource map* in Milwaukee! Participants are welcome to bring their laptops or use the computers in the facility. This will be “hands on” training primarily for CDBG agencies.

For more information, contact Joyce Mallory at the Nonprofit Center.


Theory of Change?  What’s that and why do I need one?
Wednesday July 27, 9:00–11:00 at the Nonprofit Center.

Have you been asked by a funder “But what’s your theory of change?”  What do they mean by this and why do they need to know? Find out why a developing your theory of change can be just what you need to improve planning, evaluation, and community engagement around your social change work. Presented by Katie Pritchard, Data You Can Use, in partnership with the Nonprofit Center.

For more information, contact Susanne Vella

* The first three trainings are primarily for staff of CDBG agencies, and open to others as space permits.

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