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 info@statesforthefuture.org 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:

Building Quality Data Products – A States for the Future Community Resource

States for the Future is excited to share its newest Network Resource: Building Quality Data Products. 

As data-driven policy organizations, one of the most effective ways to impact policy conversations happening in our states is by making data and analysis accessible and meaningful to decision makers and community members. 

Quality data products—such as dashboards, infographics, dynamic data visualizations, calculators, simulators, interactive maps, etc.—can serve as a starting point for shared facts, bring clarity to complex problems, and support policy analysis and goals. 

But creating quality data products requires organizations to invest in not only the build, but also ongoing maintenance and efforts to drive adoption and use of a data product.  In this resource, we discuss the Purpose, People, Build, and Action best practices that can lead to success, as well as tips, resources, and links to other products peers have created for inspiration. 

Leveraging the expertise of States for the Future organizations and Network partners Ajah and January Advisors, Building Quality Data Products builds on the robust conversations during our “Building Data Products” breakout session at our 2024 Annual Convening in Tempe, Arizona. In this session, and in many of our monthly virtual community discussions, Network members have discussed the common challenges and considerations that nonprofit, data-driven policy organizations face when making decisions about building data products. This network resource attempts to address many of those questions, including:

  • Should I create a data product? What type of data product should I create?
  • What should I look for in a vendor?
  • Will people use my data product?

We would love your feedback on this Community Resource! If you have any comments or want to brainstorm on your own data product, please let us know at info@statesforthefuture.org.

States for the Future Data Platform Virtual Community Discussion

Join Dr. Holly Heard of Texas 2036 and David McClendon of January Advisors in an exploration of the States for the Future Data Platform. 

In this virtual community discussion, attendees will learn how to use the States for the Future data platform, including how to best leverage it for advancing their work in their own states, and have the opportunity to chat with their peers about data products they use or built. 

Engaging Stakeholders to Build the Washington Vitals

How can you use data to drive ongoing conversations about your community’s future?

The Washington Vitals offer the most current data at the state and community levels to track progress toward Washington State’s desired future. Together with business and community partners, AWB Institute made Washington’s data come to life through good design and ongoing collaboration around the data.

Join Erika Borg of the AWB Institute to learn more about Washington’s approach and discuss efforts in your own state.

Speaker:

Erika Borg has nearly 20 years experience working within philanthropic, nonprofit and corporate circles to improve the lives of young people.  In 2018 she started Civic Allies Consulting which supports chambers of commerce, nonprofits and philanthropy in drawing up strategy, programmatic design and identifying funding.

Erika also serves as the Senior Advisor to AWB Institute, a 501c3 affiliated with the Washington State Chamber of Commerce, dedicated to the long-term economic success of all Washingtonians.  AWB Institute uses data and long-term economic trends to think through some of the biggest challenges facing Washington.  The Institute’s flagship project is Washington in the Making and “The Vitals”.  Erika has a Masters of Public Administration from University of Southern California and a Bachelors Degree in English from University of California, Davis.

Virtual Learning Series: Engaging Stakeholders to Build the Washington Vitals

How can you use data to drive ongoing conversations about your community’s future?

The Washington Vitals offer the most current data at the state and community levels to track progress toward Washington State’s desired future. Together with business and community partners, AWB Institute made Washington’s data come to life through good design and ongoing collaboration around the data.

Join Erika Borg of the AWB Institute to learn more about Washington’s approach and discuss efforts in your own state.

Registration is now closed. Slides (including key takeaways) are viewable here.

Speaker:

Erika Borg has nearly 20 years experience working within philanthropic, nonprofit and corporate circles to improve the lives of young people.  In 2018 she started Civic Allies Consulting which supports chambers of commerce, nonprofits and philanthropy in drawing up strategy, programmatic design and identifying funding.  

Erika also serves as the Senior Advisor to AWB Institute, a 501c3 affiliated with the Washington State Chamber of Commerce, dedicated to the long-term economic success of all Washingtonians.  AWB Institute uses data and long-term economic trends to think through some of the biggest challenges facing Washington.  The Institute’s flagship project is Washington in the Making and “The Vitals”.  Erika has a Masters of Public Administration from University of Southern California and a Bachelors Degree in English from University of California, Davis.