Last week we participated in StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Network Convening, a gathering of change-makers united in the work of breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for every child, regardless of race or zip code.
At one of the plenary breakfasts, we heard from author, activist, and civil rights leader Stacey Abrams, who said that cradle-to-career begins when they arrive and ends when they get a job. Abrams encouraged us to hold a light up to solutions. To hold up that light, our communities need data. Many of the sessions and workshops we attended were focused on data and the value of educators and partners utilizing data. Unfortunately, organizations often don’t have enough good data on what is working and what is not.
In many of our communities, data illustrates what our community problems are. Organizations then channel solutions and provide funding to nonprofits to try to combat those community problems. Funders and program managers ask for reports from nonprofits to try to better understand how their clients are faring. But organizations often stop there.
An added complication is communities receiving multiple reports from multiple nonprofits. If the organization doesn’t aggregate the data, they have no idea whether or not different nonprofit organizations are serving the same clients or if the combination of programs and services is leading to improved outcomes.
Founded as a cradle-to-career initiative in , Every Hand Joined in Red Wing, Minnesota set up a system so that all nonprofit partners of the school system are able to receive information on the academic progress of the students they serve. Just knowing which nonprofits were asking for this academic information helped the school district to understand how many nonprofit partners were serving their students. Every Hand Joined was able to learn how many out-of-school-time tutoring and mentoring programs students were attending.
Why aren’t more communities trying to better understand how nonprofits are supporting school districts? Many communities struggle to get real-time data from nonprofits. Addressing this data challenge is our specialty. We are the pipeline of nonprofit data to community platforms so that communities can learn the most effective combination of programs and services students are receiving. It’s not just one school that transforms a student’s life. It takes many schools and nonprofits working together. One family could be served by five nonprofits and receive 10 program services. Understanding collective action is the game-changer.
Learn more about how we help communities to get real-time data from nonprofits. Download our collective action white paper.