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What Counts?

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A Roadmap: How to Use This Book

This book is a response to the explosive interest in and availability of data, especially for improving America’s communities. It is designed to be useful to practitioners, policymakers, funders, and the data intermediaries and other technical experts who help transform all types of data into useful information.

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Foreword

What Counts is the product of an exciting collaboration between the Urban Institute and the […]

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Data and Community – Foundations for an Agenda

The essays in this book examine this potential and promising new practices, as well as barriers to be overcome.

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The Future of Community Indicator Systems

Using community indicators projects to distill data into the right measures to shape action and policy.

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The County Health Rankings: “A Treasure Trove of Data”

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps is a program dedicated to helping communities become healthier places to live, learn, work, and play.

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Making Sense of Markets: Using Data to Guide Reinvestment Strategies

The market value analysis (MVA) helps make objective, rigorously analyzed, contemporary market data available to help answer these questions and inform decisions.

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In Brief: The Low Income Investment Fund’s Social Impact Calculator

We developed a new tool called the Social Impact Calculator that monetizes—puts a dollar value on—the social value of the projects that we support.

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Health Impact Assessments: Improving Public Health Through Community Development

In 2007, a community developer in Oakland, California, made minor modifications to a planned low-income […]

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Making the Most of Open Data

The aim of open government data—to open the storehouses of government data to the world in order for the data to have maximum use and effectiveness—is a bold one. Open data initiatives reposition governments as suppliers of data and also anticipate the participation of additional parties in using those data.

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The Creation of the National Mortgage Database

Public policy, regulatory agendas and the growing enthusiasm with big data have sparked an interest […]

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In Brief: Applying Technology Advances to Improve Public Access to Mortgage Data

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has developed new mortgage data tools to provide public HMDA data in more user-friendly forms to improve transparency in the mortgage market. These tools make it easier for the public to analyze market trends and emerging risks. Public officials also gain improved access to the public data to conduct analyses that may inform future policymaking and research.

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Three Data Access Trends Shaping the Future of Community Development: Open Data, My Data, and Smart Disclosure

This essay lays out three policy trends related to data: open data, My Data, and smart disclosure. The essay provides real-world examples of how community groups are taking advantage of these trends and includes practical steps groups can take to start harnessing open data, My Data, and smart disclosure to support families and strengthen communities.

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In Brief: Can Data From Nonprofit Hospital Tax Returns Improve Community Health?

Nonprofit hospitals play a key role in improving the overall health of their communities. This essay summarizes the current status of community benefit allocations recently made available through new IRS reporting.

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The Youth Sector: Supporting Cross-Institutional Community Collaboration Through Shared Data

This essay examines possibilities for using shared data systems to support and sustain youth sector collaboratives through the experience of the Youth Data Archive (YDA), an initiative of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University.

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Data Integration for Social Policy: Challenges and Opportunities

This essay discusses the tension between using linked data sets to inform policy and the privacy and other concerns that emerge from the use of linked data sets.

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Affordable Housing as a Platform for Resident Success: Building the Evidence Base

Low-income or disadvantaged people are often isolated in neighborhoods where affordable housing is not aligned with public transportation and where they are disconnected from employment opportunities, child care, education, recreation, health care, and quality food resources. A small number of housing providers are working to reverse these conditions.

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In Brief: Data Transparency and Standardization

Ten years ago, community development loan funds, led by Opportunity Finance Network, tasked themselves with increasing transparency, accountability, and standardization in their industry to strengthen performance and attract increased capital.

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The Transformative Power of Shared Data

There is tremendous power in data; it enables better decision making and wiser resource allocation. […]

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Enhancing Data Quality, Relevance, and Use through Community-Based Participatory Research

The past two decades have witnessed growing calls for research conducted with—rather than on—communities. This chapter looks at how community-based participatory research (CBPR), which uses a community-centered approach to data gathering and translation, can significantly improve the “relevance, rigor and reach” of data-driven practices.

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Using Data to Understand Residential Mobility and Neighborhood Change

Residential mobility shapes both the experiences of individuals and the characteristics of neighborhoods. Community organizations with access to a variety of measures that can shed light on residential mobility processes will be best positioned to make strategic decisions about their work with people and places and accurately evaluate the effect of their efforts.

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In Brief: Putting Data into Action for Regional Equity in California’s San Joaquin Valley

This case study,based on the work of the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, illustrates how diverse parties can work together to promote sustainable regional planning that guarantees healthy, prosperous and equitable outcomes.

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Shared Measurement: Advancing Evaluation of Community Development Outcomes

This essay explores the benefits and challenges of using shared measures in community development.

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New Ways of Using Data in Federal Place-Based Initiatives: Opportunities to Create a Results Framework and Raise the Visibility of Equity Issues

Several of the Obama administration’s place-based programs have aspired to increase local capacity for collecting and interpreting data, though in very different circumstances and with different objectives. In this essay, we explore the experiences of two of these initiatives—Promise Neighborhoods and the Fair Housing Equity Assessment—and draw some early lessons about effective practices.

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Everything Old is New Again: Building Nonprofit Capacity in the Age of Big Data

Can local organizations make their neighborhoods stronger and healthier? If they can, how do they […]

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In Brief: Enabling and Driving Performance Management in Local Government

This article looks at the role of International City/County Management Association in the history of performance management in local government.

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“Narrative” and “Vehicle”: Using Evidence to Inform Policy

“Wherever possible, we should design new initiatives to build rigorous data about what works and […]

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In Brief: Sustaining Data Culture Within Local Government

This personal narrative explores the author's time in the City of Chicago’s Department of Housing, and her on-the-ground experience with data and reporting in city government.

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Evaluating Social Determinants of Health in Community Development Projects

We know the all-too-familiar statistics—despite the United States spending almost twice as much as other […]

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Using Data to Drive Change in Complex Community Systems

This essayillustrates a set of measurement principles and approaches that have helped service providers and community residents better understand and respond to the complexity inherent in community change.

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The Role of Data and Measurement in Impact Investing: How Do You Know if You’re Making a Difference?

At best, data help us predict the future and understand the past. At worst, they […]

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Strengthening Community Development: A Call for Investment in Information Infrastructure

This essay shares lessons from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s investments in community development efforts in Chicago and information infrastructure nationally, and offers recommendations for foundations interested in supporting the evolution of a more informed and effective community development field.

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What Counts?

Are we making a difference?  What impact do the efforts of community developers, public health […]