Updated: Mar 21
One of my favorite parts of my job is the way I can help local non-profits find data that allows them to assess the needs of our community and the direction of their strategy. Relevant and timely local data is an immensely important tool for agencies and organizations to grow and effectively serve, but it’s not always easy to find. Google can only get you so far, and some of the data portals provided by government agencies can be really hard to navigate. Enter your friendly neighborhood sociologist.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to find and compile data for a number of local partners. For example, the City of Waco Housing and Community Development Department, under the leadership of Galen Price and Josh Caballero, has spent the last year strategizing ways to improve various elements of our local housing system. Prosper Waco has been able to offer data support, building maps that show community variation in things like poverty, education, home ownership, and home values. These maps should be useful for residents and community stakeholders as they create strategies and priorities for revitalization in their neighborhoods.
Jesus Said Love, a local organization that serves women in our community, asked for help understanding the dynamics of gender and families in Waco. Prosper Waco was able to compile some charts and maps using US Census data to visualize family living arrangements, income and poverty, employment and educational attainment, and the pay gap between men and women in our city. Change Waco, a local alliance working toward racial justice, was interested in learning more about the relationship between race/ethnicity, local school discipline, and local juvenile justice, sometimes referred to as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Prosper Waco compiled local school discipline data from the Texas Education Agency, employment data from the Waco ISD Police Department, and juvenile arrest data from the City of Waco Police Department.
I’m a pretty curious guy, so I love opportunities to dive into data from sectors and institutions that I know little about. If your organization or agency thinks they could benefit from some local data or analysis, but doesn’t know where to start, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to see how we can work together to gain a clearer understanding of our wonderful and changing community.
Jeremy R. Rhodes, PhD, is senior director of data and research at Prosper Waco