Last week, Foundation President and CEO Patrick McCarthy addressed members of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership — a network of more than 30 local organizations that collect, organize and use neighborhood data to inform local advocacy and decision making — who gathered in Baltimore for their semiannual meeting.
The Foundation has supported the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, managed by the Urban Institute, since its inception two decades ago. The network is a critical ally in providing data, research and evidence to help guide decision making.
McCarthy’s remarks emphasized the essential role the partnership and its members play as sources of strong, reliable data. In cities across the country, they help highlight the challenges and opportunities for kids, families and communities.
Among McCarthy’s main points:
- Without data at every level, we cannot accurately identify where problems are — and where we most need solutions. Data are crucial in making good decisions — particularly when it comes to informing policies, which can help, or thwart, the well-being of kids and families on a broad scale. Without clear evidence, our decisions and solutions can be well-intended but completely ineffective. Investing in programs and practices proven not to work wastes dollars and stands to undermine the potential of children and youth in neighborhoods across the country.
- Data and research can help ground decisions in evidence rather than partisanship or bias — and ensure kids, families and communities aren’t left behind. The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership has been a leader in strengthening local capacity for data-driven decision making in neighborhoods, cities and regions across the country; informing policy at all levels based on local experience; and building broad support for community information systems, as well as the growing field of integrated data systems. In addition, local partners’ expertise has driven cross-city projects in fields such as civic technology, neighborhood revitalization and community health. The Casey Foundation has benefitted from such projects in areas that include early childhood education and the return of individuals who’ve been incarcerated to their communities.
- Local partners provide a public service, contributing to the knowledge and understanding of residents in their respective cities. For example, the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute — a local member of the partnership and a Casey grantee — maintains a data library that allows residents and communities to see where they fit in the broader city landscape and drill down to their neighborhood block. Through mapping tools, they can see inequities across the city and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing various communities — and why some residents are cut off from opportunity. Having access to rich data enables communities to advocate for themselves and drive change, in addition to giving residents the chance to bring those numbers to life by explaining their context, which is another invaluable form of data.
Learn more about the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership.