Data You Can Use

FROM PEOPLE YOU CAN TRUST

New Data for Better Neighborhood Health

This Spring, Data You Can Use sponsored a session at the Zilber School of Public Health highlighting three new sources of data that can help promote healthy neighborhoods. Participants included representatives from health clinics, hospitals, community development corporations, neighborhood organizations, the City Health Department, faculty and students from UWM and the Medical College of Wisconsin and United Way.  The slides from the session are available on our reports and presentations page.

The session introduced participants to each other, to new data sources, and the potential of using these resources to improve neighborhood health. It began with a quick quiz on the connection between health and wealth. Most participants were aware that:

  • people with lower income report poorer health (both physical and mental);
  • people with lower incomes have a higher risk of disease, and
  • people with lower incomes have a significantly shorter life expectancies.

Many attendees were surprised to learn that according to the research, promoting economic growth doesn’t always correspond to improved health. However, investments in improved health and nutrition are associated with improved productivity and economic development.The three datasets we presented can be used to further explore this connection. They include:

  1. CityHealth, from the deBeaumont Foundation which looks at policies that affect health;
  2. 500 Cities Project from the Center for Disease Control and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which provides health data at the census tract level; and
  3. the Milwaukee Community Data Base, a local portal for a range of data from a variety of sources.

CityHealth rates the 40 largest US cities on nine evidence-based policies that affect health.  It offers information on nine policies, by city and by policy. For example, evidence shows that health outcomes can be affected by paid sick leave laws, high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten, affordable housing/inclusionary zoning policies, alcohol sales control, Tobacco 21 policies, healthy food procurement policies and complete streets policies. Each city gets a rating and some earn a bronze, medal or gold depending on the policy. Milwaukee received medals in three of the nine categories, suggesting there is much to be done.

The group was interested in the “data deep dive.” For each policy, the site provides the full codebook, the data and, of most interest, the evidence. This is a great resource for assuring funders, board members, public officials, and most importantly, the residents in your neighborhood, that there is some evidence that the policy will make a difference.

500 Cities Data for Local Health

For dataphyles, this is an exciting new data set made available through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the CDC. For people who care about health and neighborhood conditions, this is a tool to better understand and address health disparities.

Although there is a growing understanding of the impact of place on , there has only been limited data available at the county and city levels. And we know that county and even city level data masks the disparities that are so important to address.

Now, for the first time ever, we can access the 500 Cities database and see the differences at the census tract level! There are 27 variables, reflecting unhealthy behaviors, health outcomes, and preventative measures. In Wisconsin, the data are available for Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, Racine, Appleton and Waukesha. Using reliable small area estimations, we can compare Milwaukee to the state and national numbers, and for neighborhood enthusiasts, we can now compare neighborhoods within Milwaukee.

In a hyper-segregated city like Milwaukee, we are accustomed to seeing highly clustered data. The 500 Cities data reveal some interesting differences that should be affecting the way we target our resources.  The MapBook for Milwaukee is available on our website and has each of the indicators mapped across the census tracts. For those who want to examine comparative areas, the actual data can be accessed and used interactively.

The Milwaukee Community Data Base is a portal to readily available data. The group explored how this could be used to identify housing built before 1951 and therefore more likely to have lead-based paint and/ or plumbing. Combining this with other available information could help identify local health needs and mobilize solutions. For a neighborhood group, the ability to match street addresses with both young children, and the threat of high blood lead levels, provides the ability to target education and water filter distribution.

What Participants Said

The “quickie critique” suggested that the session was well received.

  • I liked the variety of data sources covered.
  • I liked the introduction to new data sets that I will certainly be able to use in my work.
  • I really appreciate you all taking the time to share these tools.
  • I liked learning about and getting to play with the datasets, A very helpful resource—thank you!
  • There is a great cross section of health/neighborhood representation here!
  • I like that it was in the computer lab so I could look through the sites while learning about them.

Besides a suggestion to add wine to the session (it was a Friday afternoon after all), one recommendation that came from several attendees was to provide more examples of how the data could be used.

What’s Next?

At Data Day 2017 MKE last week, we posted the 500 Cities map for Milwaukee throughout the day and participants took a data walk, noting some patterns unlike our usual heatmaps. This group agreed: there is much to explore.

So… to get things started, we’ll be convening a group of interested stakeholders to form a “users group” to explore the use of health data at the neighborhood level.  If you’d like to join us, please contact katie@datayoucanuse.org before July 6th 2017 and we’ll find a time to get started!

What makes your neighborhood great?

Who and what are the people, places and things really make your neighborhood a great place to live, work and play?

This question is at the heart of neighborhood asset mapping, and was the focus of a workshop for neighborhood leaders presented by Data You Can Use this past fall. We held the event at the Washington Park Library Community Room, which is a great space for communal events. We appreciate our public libraries as an important asset for us and for people we work with, and Milwaukee Public Library is a great resource for books, information and a lot more!

Observations from the workshop from the attendees

  • “I learned [a lot] about other neighborhoods & communities [in Milwaukee].”
  • “[I] realize how many assets I have in my neighborhood.”
  • “[This] broadened my view of an asset.”

I lead a session along with  Carrie Koss Vallejo and Katie Pritchard. We decided to introduce the concept of Neighborhood Asset Mapping through a series of exercises:

  • Begin by describing your own personal assets—strengths, resources, skills. Share some examples with the group.
  • Consider the benefits of discussing things in terms of assets rather than problems or deficits.
  • Discuss the concept of a “neighborhood asset”  from the Asset Based Community Development Institute.
  • Ask individuals to  list the assets that are in their neighborhood.
  • Break into groups to share assets and discuss findings. For a sample of assets identified see here.
  • Reconvene the full group to discuss how asset mapping can help identify gaps in a neighborhood and opportunities for connecting.

As I was learning about asset mapping from them, it was great to rely on the attendees’ expertise while planning for the event, and to have them on hand during the day!

What is neighborhood asset mapping and who is it for?

Neighborhood asset maps, or “Asset Based Community Development” is a term coined by the ABCD Institute out of Northwestern University. While a more detailed description can be found ts on their website, the basic rationale is this:

Without the capacity for change, neighborhood change may not happen. Focusing first on what assets a neighborhood has, and where the opportunities and gaps are can reduce the effort to make things happen, which increases a neighborhood’s capacity for change.

That statement sounds good, but what does that mean for a resident on a block?

Making change happen in a neighborhood takes effort, time and resources. One of the most important parts of any change process is to understand your existing resources so that you can build from what you have. This is really at the heart of the work of Data You Can Use and is what Neighborhood Asset Mapping is all about.

In short, asset mapping is a way to collaboratively identify and visually describe assets and to use them as the basis of  building stronger, sustainable communities.

So who is neighborhood asset mapping for and who should use it? It is a tool for all stakeholders in a neighborhood or community. That includes residents, property owners, community organizations, community organizers and government. The collaborative process of asset mapping relies on the knowledge and insights of the residents and stakeholders who live and work in the community. The focus on identifying existing resources rather than deficits is more action oriented and can allow neighborhood residents to begin to link resources together and begin to address issues that have a more powerful  effect.

What can you do with neighborhood asset maps?

It is common for neighborhoods that are struggling with a particular issue to work inside their neighborhood and seek outside funding and assistance to help make change happen. One of the challenges of working with multiple outside partners is this: what is valuable to a resident in a neighborhood is not always what appears valuable to outside eyes. While not always the case, DYCU believes strongly on a “resident-first” approach. When mapping assets, it is important to start with the voices of people who live and work in a neighborhood, then to bring in outside resources to help satisfy that identified want. This practice helps ensure that the needs of the community are clearly represented in community development work.

Data You Can Use has created asset maps, and some of those are available on our web site. Stay tuned for updates!

As much need or want as a neighborhood might have, identifying existing resources within the community is an important first step.  We are excited about partnering with others to use asset mapping in neighborhood development and in further exploring ways to assure that the voice of people who live and work in a neighborhood is integral to the work.

Want to learn more about Neighborhood Asset Mapping for your neighborhood? You can learn more about the ABCD Institute here and by contacting us.

Beautiful day in the neighborhoods

 

Photo credit: Milwaukee Christian Center

We are pleased to share three new neighborhood level data portraits. In addition to the many interesting facts within the reports, the background and development process of these reports is worth sharing.

In September, data portraits were released for  the City of Milwaukee’s Neighborhood Strategic Planning Areas.  Now the template has been adopted by a second set of neighborhood data users representing Amani, Metcalfe Park and, which are Milwaukee’s Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) areas.  These reports highlight data chosen by community leaders, assembled by a data team, and now adopted by a second group of community organizers.  

It can be a real challenge to try to show  change in a neighborhood when the data can only be found at the city level.  With data assistance, however, these organizations can use datasets like the American Community Survey (ACS)  to inform their planning, and complement their  observations and neighborhood knowledge.  

To strengthen the partnership between those who need data and those who use data in Milwaukee, the Nonprofit Center convened a group of Neighborhood Strategic Planning Area (NSP) community organizers and worked with Data You Can Use staff, to develop a template of neighborhood data.  These community organizers provided critical input by:

  • Defining neighborhood boundaries, and
  • Prioritizing data for inclusion

The template began with standard data points recommended by the data team, including population by race and poverty status.  With input from the community organizers the template grew to include other data such as cost of rents and mortgages and the year housing units were built.  

The adoption of the report by a second group of community organizers is a sign that the reports were created thoughtfully and that the data are useful.  We at Data You Can Use will continue to collect feedback on what’s helpful to community builders and advocate for the use of data.  But it’s important to take a moment to celebrate this shared effort, and thank the community organizers and residents who have contributed their time and shared their priorities.

So, thank you to: Danell Cross, Sister Patricia Rogers, Pepper Ray and Juanita Valcercal for their insights and questions when creating these new neighborhood data portraits.

Weekly Data & Tech Workshop

Work on a project. Learn about data. Learn about new technology. Network with other Milwaukeeans working in data or tech. This is the weekly HackMKE Workshops, sponsored by the Milwaukee Community Database.

Sign up here!

Mondays 5:30- 7:30 PM

Please note the LOCATION CHANGE!
Ward 4 – (Pritzlaff Building, Quarles & Brady Boardroom)
333 N. Plankinton Ave, Milwaukee, WI

unnamedWant to learn about something specific or share a topic? Let us know! This is a place for you to work on what your projects and learn more about data and technology that will help you and the City!

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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