Using the States for the Future Data Platform – April 2024 Virtual Community Discussion

This month, our Virtual Community Discussion explored how data-driven policy organizations can use the States for the Future data platform. Speakers Dr. Holly Heard of Texas 2036 and Dr. David McClendon of January Advisors, both of whom were instrumental in all phases of building our platform, highlighted new features and data, including four new indicator areas launched this month! (Infrastructure, Government Performance, Natural Resources, and Justice and Safety)

Our discussion began with Holly and David providing background on how the indicators were selected and explaining the key ways that data-driven organizations can leverage the SFF data platform in their work:

  1. Serving as a trusted data source that offers vetted, up-to-date data that can generate summary visualizations, downloadable tables, or linked via API to power your own tools.
  2. Providing context and comparison to illustrate not just trends in your state but how they compare with other states and the nation as a whole. This includes multiple ways to disaggregate the data. 
  3. Connecting with peers using the organization profile feature to find others who are focused on the same policy areas and may be able to advise, brainstorm, or partner with.
  4. Act as a launchpad for prototyping your own tool – select indicators you want to display and share with partners or funders via the Organization Profile URL OR use the API as a reliable data source as you develop and launch your own tool

Followed by a tour of the platform, attendees saw how to use the indicator explorer, access the API, and create their own organizational profile

For the last 30 minutes of our discussion, attendees asked questions of Holly and David and each other. Three main lines of inquiry emerged during the conversation:

  • What skills are needed to create a data tool? What is the right balance between in-house and vendor or researcher expertise?
  • How can these types of platforms support smaller organizations or government entities with the time consuming work of wrangling and maintaining data?
  • Can data tools generate enough revenue for organizations, like nonprofits, to self-sustain or partially sustain themselves? How do funder priorities impact the development of a data product? How can we sustain the States for the Future data platform? Should certain features be gated through a log-in or have a cost to access? 

Many of these topics are covered more in-depth in our newest network resource, Building Quality Data Products. Please contact the SFF team at if you are looking for thought partnership in building your own data product!

Thank you to all the new and familiar faces who joined this month’s virtual community discussion and shared their knowledge, thoughts, and comments. It was wonderful to reunite with many after our in-person convening in Tempe! 

You can access the materials from this virtual community discussion here: