The new dashboard illustrates community need and the collective impact of United Way’s partners
By Margaret Matray, communications manager, United Way of Central Indiana
Data tells a story.
United Way of Central Indiana has long collected and analyzed data to understand the needs of the community and inform its decisions and strategies.
The data paints a picture of who in our community is living in or near poverty, what their greatest barriers are – and how organizations across the region are working to address those challenges.
Now, United Way is making that data available to the public for the first time. Launched this month, the Impact United Dashboard is an interactive data tool that illustrates community need and the response of United Way’s partners in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, Morgan and Putnam counties.
“It’s our way of making sure that we are showing how we have been accountable to the community, to donors, to funders – to ensure we are lifting their impact but also (showing) how we’re trying to invest in communities where there are gaps in services,” said Denise Luster, United Way’s vice president of impact research and data analytics.
The dashboard provides snapshots of United Way and its partners’ work in key focus areas, including economic mobility, educational success, food, health, housing and transportation. Users can explore the data by focus area, dig into the demographics of those served and filter the data by county.
“This should be a tool that anyone can use to see some key highlights of what’s happening within their community, no matter where they’re located,” said Stephanie Fritz, United Way’s strategic research and analytics senior director.
The tool reflects the most recent data that’s available and is designed to be a “living dashboard” that will be updated as new data emerges, said Daniel Hedglin, United Way’s director of data insights and storytelling.
Throughout the dashboard, data that shows community need comes from national, state and local sources and The Polis Center’s SAVI program at IUPUI. Data showing impact comes from organizations, programs and community-based organizations that partner with, or receive funding from, United Way.
“This data comes from our partners in impact,” Fritz said. “It’s their work that they’re doing in the community.”
United Way’s reporting and analytics team – called the Strategic Information team – began talking about creating a public dashboard last year.
Community organizations that work with United Way report data to the nonprofit quarterly and biannually. A dashboard was a way to show them – and the community – what their collective impact looks like, said Purbasha Dasgupta, United Way’s research and evaluation senior manager.
“This is our collective footprint in the Central Indiana community,” said Dasgupta, who led the project.
The dashboard reflects the “immense collective efforts” of United Way’s partners to serve people in the community, Hedglin added.
According to the dashboard:
- More than one in three Marion County households are in poverty or are considered ALICE, meaning they earn above the Federal Poverty Level but not enough to afford a basic household budget. (ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.)
- About 29% of households that are in poverty or ALICE in United Way’s seven-county service area are families with children.
- A racial wealth gap exists between white Hoosiers and communities of color. For every dollar earned by a white household in the region in 2019, Black or African American households earned 88 cents on average. Hispanic households earned 76 cents.
Through the dashboard, users can see how particular community needs are being addressed. For example, more than 63% of households that are in poverty or considered ALICE in the region are headed by single women. The data shows that more than half of adults receiving career counseling and coaching from United Way’s partners are from the same population. And 42% of childcare assistance services are provided to single female parents or caregivers.
“Through our various initiatives, we’re not only addressing the fact that we see there’s a need that’s particularly present in this one specific population, but our impact work was able to tie together to help move them … on a trajectory from poverty to ALICE, ALICE to stability,” Fritz said. “Our partners in impact are providing these services to address that.”
Whenever she talks about data, Luster points out that it’s more than numbers. Data represents real people living in our community. The dashboard can educate Hoosiers on where the need is and what can be done to meet those needs.
“The breadth and depth of the need is great, but there are also many organizations out there trying to help address that need,” Luster said.
To explore the data dashboard, visit uwci.org/impactunited.