DataHaven’s 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey Earns Support from Connecticut’s Top Foundations, Healthcare Providers

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015

Covering all towns and cities in Connecticut, the 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey will yield neighborhood and regional data from interviews of 15,000 state residents.

NEW HAVEN, CT, April 13, 2015 – DataHaven, a nonprofit group leading the collection and study of public data on key social and economic indicators, has announced the commencement of the 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey, a major initiative. This will be the most comprehensive survey of quality of life ever conducted in Connecticut, covering issues such as community vitality, health, family economic security, and individual happiness.

Supporters of the 2015 survey include dozens of the state’s leading hospitals, government agencies, universities, and charities statewide, including regional community foundations and United Ways located in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, New Britain, Norwalk, Derby, and New London.

Building on the success of its 2012 survey of Greater New Haven — at the time the most in-depth regional survey ever conducted in the state — DataHaven’s 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey will expand this scope to encompass the entire state.

“This is a nationally recognized program that provides neighborhood- and regional-level information not available from any other source, with a mission to produce the highest-quality findings on the issues that are most meaningful to residents of all of Connecticut’s towns and cities,” says Mark Abraham, Executive Director of DataHaven. “With this detailed snapshot, state and local community leaders will be able to better serve the health and well-being needs of communities across Connecticut.”

Abraham adds that unlike most statewide and national data collection programs, the DataHaven program represents the unification of many longstanding grassroots efforts that have focused on bringing information to support local action, and which have been previously embraced by communities and organizations throughout the state. DataHaven designed the 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey with the support of nearly 100 government, academic, health-care, and community partners, many of whom are supplying major funding for its expansion.

Partners providing significant funding for the program are representative of each region of the state. This funding will support DataHaven as it conducts the statewide survey, interviewing 15,000 randomly selected residents about their views on topics related to civic engagement, health, economic security, transportation, housing, and employment, as well as on their individual happiness and satisfaction with government and community life.

– In Fairfield County, $200,000 has been committed by leading organizations such as Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, Bridgeport Hospital, Stamford Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, and the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County.

– In south-central Connecticut, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven along with Yale-New Haven Hospital, Workforce Alliance, United Way of Greater New Haven, and others have joined forces to commit over $100,000 in funding.

– In Greater Hartford and New Britain, the program has drawn over $100,000 in support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, Trinity College Office of the President and Center for Urban and Global Studies, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Johnson Memorial Medical Center, and others.

– Additionally, DataHaven has secured funding to ensure that residents of Connecticut’s smaller cities and rural areas are included to the same degree as those living in its major metropolitan areas. Over $200,000 has been committed to conduct extensive interviews throughout Greater Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley, Greater New London, and in small towns and rural areas, from organizations such as the Connecticut Community Foundation, Valley Community Foundation, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Ledge Light Health District, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, and others.

“We believe that the 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey, possibly the most comprehensive local-level survey of its type in the United States, will be of great value to neighborhoods and organizations striving to make Connecticut an even better place to live and work,” says Abraham.

Results from the survey will be published in a series of local and statewide reports throughout late 2015 and 2016, helping to shed light on progress made toward various longstanding community priorities, including financial security for families and opportunities for children to succeed. As an example, results from DataHaven’s more localized survey in 2012 were included in the Community Index, a nationally recognized, 86-page study that has been used extensively by governments, funders, journalists, teachers, and researchers in Connecticut. The results were also cited in a number of other landmark reports produced by area agencies and community organizations.

Cell phone and landline telephone surveys, as well as other public outreach, will begin this month, according to DataHaven.

A list of partners for DataHaven’s 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey follows (partial list)

Foundations and Philanthropy

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation
Community Foundation of Greater New Britain
Connecticut Community Foundation
Valley Community Foundation
Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut
Main Street Community Foundation
Westchester Community Foundation
Connecticut Council for Philanthropy
United Way of Greater New Haven
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
United Way of Greater Waterbury
Valley United Way
United Way of Connecticut
NewAlliance Foundation
Carolyn Foundation
Annie E. Casey Foundation

Health Care

Yale-New Haven Hospital
Bridgeport Hospital
St. Vincent’s Medical Center
Greenwich Hospital
Waterbury Hospital
Saint Mary’s Hospital
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
Johnson Memorial Medical Center
Lawrence + Memorial Hospital
Stamford Hospital
Danbury Hospital
Norwalk Hospital
New Milford Hospital
Western Connecticut Health Network
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center
Griffin Hospital
Middlesex Hospital
Hartford HealthCare
StayWell Health Center
BHcare
Hispanic Health Council
United Community and Family Services
Connecticut Hospital Association

Government / Agency

Connecticut Housing Finance Authority
Connecticut’s Legislative Commission on Aging
Connecticut General Assembly Committee on Children
Connecticut Civic Health Project
South Central Regional Council of Governments
Capitol Region Council of Governments
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
Workforce Alliance
The WorkPlace
Shelton Economic Development Corporation
City of Bridgeport Health Department
City of New Haven Health Department
City of Hartford Health and Human Services Department
Stamford Department of Health and Social Services
City of Waterbury Health Department
Ledge Light Health District
Eastern Highlands Health District
Northeast District Department of Health
Naugatuck Valley Health District
Quinnipiac Valley Health District
Stratford Health Department
Fairfield Health Department
Chesprocott Health District
Pomperaug Health District
East Shore Health District
Westport Weston Health District
Uncas Health District
Manchester Health Department
Glastonbury Health Department
City of Bristol
City of Derby Bureau of Youth Services
Town of Seymour

Colleges and Universities

Office of the President, Trinity College
Center for Urban and Global Studies, Trinity College
Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, Yale School of Public Health
Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University
Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center
Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges

Other Initiatives, Businesses, and Organizations

Bridge to Success Community Partnership
Greater Waterbury Health Improvement Partnership
Partnership for a Healthier Greater New Haven
Community Solutions
Connecticut Voices for Children
Connecticut Association for Human Services
Community Action Agency of Greater New Haven
Thames Valley Council for Community Action
Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce
TEAM, Inc.
Center Stage Theatre
Down to Earth Consulting Solutions
Lower Naugatuck Valley Parent Child Resource Center
Valley Regional Adult Education
Valley Council for Health and Human Services
New Haven Community Management Teams
Partnership for Strong Communities
Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund
Connecticut Public Health Association

Plus additional public and private partners not listed above.

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Selected news coverage:
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/neighborhood-data-bog-data-planning-phone-survey
http://www.cpexecutive.com/headlines/datahaven-unveils-first-ever-wellbeing-survey-for-connecticut/1004117462.html

About DataHaven

DataHaven is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a 25-year history of public service to Greater New Haven and Connecticut. DataHaven’s mission is to improve quality of life by collecting, sharing, and interpreting public data for effective decision-making. Since 1992, DataHaven has worked with organizations to develop reports and tools that make information more useful to the community. DataHaven maintains extensive economic, social, and health data, including information collected through its Community Wellbeing Survey. DataHaven is a formal partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a collaborative national effort by the Urban Institute and approximately 40 local partners to further the development and use of neighborhood information systems in local policymaking and community building. For more, visit www.ctdatahaven.org.

Local-level data needed to clarify city well-being rankings

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015
Trust by neighborhood area. Source: 2012 DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey

Trust by neighborhood area. Source: 2012 DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey

You may have seen the 2014 Community Well-Being Rankings, released this week by Gallup-Healthways. But what these types of rankings may mask is the wide range of well-being levels experienced by individuals within those metro areas, regardless of their ranking.

Mark Abraham, Executive Director of non-profit DataHaven, warns that rankings like these may be easily misinterpreted or misreported. While it may be interesting to see that Provo, Utah and Raleigh, North Carolina both rank at the top, their positions in the rankings may obscure crucial data points.

“There’s far greater variation in well-being within each metro area than between one city and another,” says Abraham.

Abraham will spend his time and DataHaven’s effort this spring and summer proving this point. The group will conduct the 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey for Connecticut, on behalf of nearly 100 government, academic, and community partners (see updated post and press release here). The Community Wellbeing Survey is the first statewide effort of its kind, and follows up directly on previously conducted surveys of thousands of randomly-selected adults within the metro-New Haven area. The group will collect data by conducting 15,000 cell phone and landline interviews, and carefully analyzing results by city, town, and neighborhood.

DataHaven’s efforts, covering all cities and towns in Connecticut, will produce high-resolution pictures of local and neighborhood well-being, helping government agencies, community organizations and philanthropy and health professionals to understand their communities and make policy recommendations.

The DataHaven program was featured this week in NextCity, a national news publication on urban affairs and city planning. Results from previous DataHaven surveys have been used widely in news articles, classroom teaching, academic research, and regional publications, and recognized with national awards.

Abraham has written previously about the potential pitfalls of city rankings.

Connecticut data leader receives award from global Community Indicators Consortium

Posted by on Oct 7, 2014

Abraham

Washington, DC summit honors Mark Abraham for exemplifying the use of information to advance community well-being

New Haven, CT (October 6, 2014) – On September 30, the Community Indicators Consortium presented an “Impact Award” at their Washington, DC summit to DataHaven’s Executive Director Mark Abraham. The international organization made the announcement, honoring Abraham with a trophy and opportunity to speak to the assembly. Abraham illustrated how DataHaven and its partners across Connecticut have collected and used public data to advance community change.

“Mark has a unique talent for sifting through volumes of data sources and finding those that are most important to help our community make decisions. Although his work is receiving much-deserved attention from all parts of the country, including major foundations, he is also very strongly committed to the city where he lives,” said Dr. Priscilla Canny, the President of DataHaven’s Board of Directors and former Senior Vice President of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

The Community Indicators Consortium honored Abraham for his “cutting-edge approaches to improving community well-being,” including his work with Yale-New Haven Hospital, the City of New Haven, Yale University, and The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to produce the Community Index 2013, a comprehensive 86-page report that benchmarks the population, economy, health, and civic life of the Greater New Haven metropolitan area.

Abraham also organized the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey, a cell phone and landline survey modeled on recent international work that creates a picture of local communities through so-called “social indicators” – measuring how issues such as food insecurity, feelings of safety and neighborliness, accessibility of infrastructure, household savings, intergenerational mobility, and perceptions of government impact our daily lives. The unique, cross-issue-sector dataset has proven valuable for social science and public health research, allowing policymakers and leaders to understand nationally-significant issues at a neighborhood level.

Under the guidance of DataHaven, both of these programs are currently undergoing a major expansion. This is particularly true of the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey, which will produce information about neighborhoods, cities, and regions across the entire state when it is conducted again in 2015. Abraham says that policymakers and researchers are beginning to pay attention to the program at a national level.

“Having a single statewide survey on well-being and opportunity is critical for the comparability of data across Connecticut’s diverse neighborhoods,” Abraham said, explaining that “the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey creates comprehensive, shared measures that we can use to improve our cities and towns as places to live, and it helps us understand some of our most significant challenges that, while sometimes studied at a national or state-wide level, are rarely captured within such scientifically-rigorous data sources at the local level.”

In May 2014, Abraham was selected as a Fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States, as one of 24 established and emerging leaders who focus nationwide on the issue of racial equity. As a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow, Abraham, along with his national colleagues from 15 states, will collaborate for three years with fellows and other leaders based in the foundation’s priority places of Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and New Mexico who are seeking to change conditions so that vulnerable children can achieve optimal health, academic achievement, and financial security.

Mark Abraham has served as the Executive Director of DataHaven since 2009, transforming it from a data gathering initiative into a research and community development program with several full-time staff. DataHaven now partners with dozens of state, regional, and local government agencies, research universities, philanthropic foundations, major health care institutions, and other nonprofit organizations, to create and share meaningful information about Connecticut’s constantly-changing regions, cities, and neighborhoods. In his role to increase the usability of public data, Abraham also provides free technical assistance in order to enable smaller groups and individuals to access the information they need, often at a neighborhood level. Abraham is a resident of New Haven.

About DataHaven

DataHaven is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a 22-year history of public service to Greater New Haven and Connecticut. DataHaven is a partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a collaborative national effort by the Urban Institute and approximately 40 local partners to further the development and use of neighborhood information systems in local policymaking and community building. DataHaven is the “data steward” for the Connecticut Data Collaborative, a public-private organization that promotes access to open data in Connecticut, and its Executive Director, Mark Abraham, serves as a member of the Connecticut Governor’s Open Data Advisory Panel and several other statewide research committees.

Information on the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey and Community Index is posted on the DataHaven website, at www.ctdatahaven.org/wellbeingsurvey.php and www.ctdatahaven.org/communityindex.

About the Community Indicators Consortium

The Community Indicators Consortium is an active, open learning network and global community of practice among persons interested or engaged in the field of indicators development and application. The mission of the Community Indicators Consortium is to advance and support the development, availability and effective use of community indicators for making measurable and sustainable improvements in quality of community life. To that end, they advance the art and science of indicators; facilitate the exchange of knowledge about the effective use of indicators; encourage development of effective indicators; and foster informed civic and media discourse about local, regional, national, and global priorities. For more, visit www.communityindicators.net.

Walk to work, or take a bus? New jobs access maps show where you can

Posted by on Apr 24, 2014

Update 5/27/14: Please see the Connecticut Mirror for a new op-ed by DataHaven Urban Fellow Deanna Song, “Connecting More People to Work in Greater New Haven,” which explores job access scenarios in greater detail.

Original article, 4/24/14: From the New Haven Green, you can walk to about 90,000 jobs within an hour commute. From the Milford Green, you can walk to about 16,000. From the Branford Green? About 3,000.

That’s according to a new “Jobs Access map” released yesterday by our colleagues at the Regional Plan Association (RPA). The interactive tool also allows you to look at where you can get to by car, public transportation, or bike, not to mention filter by travel time, desired industry, and worker education level.

AccessJobs

The new maps are based on complex data sets that were not available – i.e., not collected nationally – until relatively recently, the fruits of multi-year efforts by the Census Bureau and other agencies. You may find yourself disagreeing with a particular visualization, as the interactive map is based on the application of a somewhat uniform formula across the entire New York metropolitan area that makes assumptions about travel speeds, geography, and many other inputs. The outputs are based on a model, so like survey-based data, are not 100% precise.

The issue of metropolitan opportunity, which is highlighted in these maps, has an enormous impact on our economy, housing, well-being, and ability to be a sustainable and resilient city. Looking at the map, it is easy to see the importance of our transportation infrastructure and land use, and how it relates to issues of affordability (transportation is generally the second-largest household expense, after housing). In New Haven, the issue is particularly important, with New Haven Mayor Toni Harp emphasizing repeatedly that transportation is a civil rights issue. The largest-ever survey of our region, the Fall 2012 DataHaven Wellbeing Survey found that many families with children earning less than $50,000 per year did not have regular access to a car, while virtually all of those earning more than $50,000 per year did. Residents who rely on transit were much more likely to feel that the job market is poor.

Greater New Haven Jobs Access and Transit Study

Using the same data sets as those used in the RPA‘s map, DataHaven is involved in a small study (previously reported here) that involves mapping transit and job patterns for the entire Greater New Haven region. Building upon the RPA’s aggregate map, we are able to also drill down into data by job shift (time of commute), neighborhood type, worker race/ethnicity, worker age, job earnings level, and other characteristics. This deeper local analysis can reveal interesting patterns around disparities in access to “living wage” jobs (already described in our 2013 Community Index).

Here’s one data point that stood out to us in our earlier work on this issue: There are 4,000 African-American and Hispanic workers earning less than $40,000/year who live in New Haven’s “Outer Ring suburbs,” a collection of 10 towns that surround our core municipalities of New Haven, East Haven, Hamden, and West Haven – that represents 4% of the total number of workers who live in those towns. At the same time, there are 16,000 African-American and Hispanic workers earning less than $40,000/year who hold jobs in those towns – that’s 15% of the total employment base in those towns.

As we showed in our Community Index, high-income workers living in our suburbs rely on New Haven for the majority of their high-paying jobs, but they also rely in large part on a substantially less well-paid, diverse workforce that commutes in from places like New Haven. If everyone had access to high-quality transportation whether or not they owned a vehicle, more of these suburban jobs – many of which fall within second shifts at retail centers – might be accessible to city residents.

Results from the initial study should be ready later in the year. In the meantime, follow RPA as they enhance their map and other data tools as part of their Fourth Regional Plan. As this is a new field, please contact DataHaven if you have suggestions on what issues are most interest to local legislators or organizations who are working on expanding economic opportunity, either at a neighborhood or a regional or statewide level.

DataHaven selected as fellowship site for Azavea Summer of Maps program

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014

Azavea, a nationally-prominent geospatial analysis (GIS) firm, has selected students from The University of Pennsylvania, Clark University, and Colgate University to each receive a $5,000 stipend to perform pro bono geospatial analysis work for non-profits over the summer.  The students were selected out of a pool of 125 student applications that came from all over the country. The program is sponsored by Azavea with additional financial support from Esri and The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design.

As part of this program, Tim St. Onge, a Masters of Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment student at Clark University, will be working with DataHaven to analyze neighborhood indicators in the Greater New Haven and Valley Region.  Since 1992, DataHaven has focused on collecting and analyzing a large amount of information about Connecticut, and making it more useful to its community and government partners. DataHaven is a formal affiliate of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), a group of approximately 40 local partners who seek to build local-level community information systems for use in policy-making and community development. DataHaven is also the “data steward” for the Connecticut Data Collaborative, a statewide public-private partnership formed to promote improved access to and use of state agency data.

DataHaven was chosen as a Summer of Maps fellowship site based on a competitive application process. Additional fellowship sites this year include the Community Design Collaborative and The Consortium for Building Energy Innovation in Philadelphia, GirlStart in Austin, TreePeople in Los Angeles, and City Harvest in New York City.

The Summer of Maps program provides free geospatial analysis to non-profits, while providing real professional experience to GIS students.  The program focuses on implementing geospatial data analysis projects that will have civic and social impact, including creating high-quality maps that can be used to support new initiatives or make a case to prospective funders.  More information is available at http://summerofmaps.com/.

Greater New Haven Community Index assesses region’s quality of life trends

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013

DataHaven Media Advisory – October 1, 2013

Greater New Haven Community Index assesses region’s quality of life trends

TitleBlock350The Greater New Haven Community Index 2013: Benchmarking the People, Economic Opportunity, Health Needs, and Civic Life of Our Region was published today by DataHaven and a group of community, government, and scientific partners. The report, which is available at www.ctdatahaven.org/communityindex, is believed to be the most comprehensive ever in the Greater New Haven region. For the first time, the Greater New Haven Community Index describes demographic change, education, economics, health, and civic life in our metropolitan area and its neighborhoods. The index ranks the Greater New Haven region as the 19th best-performing metropolitan region out of the 130 largest U.S. urban areas.

“The Community Index uses the most current and accurate neighborhood statistics – in many cases broken down in detail for the first time – to illustrate the opportunities and challenges that face the area where we live, work, and play,” said Mark Abraham, Executive Director of DataHaven and the report’s lead author.

The report highlights the strong interrelationships between factors that influence quality of life and happiness. For example, while schools are important, academic achievement is largely predicted by the health of the students and their families and the wellbeing of the neighborhoods where they grow up. The report also shows that the prosperity of older adults increasingly depends on the ability of our region’s children and young adults to achieve success themselves.

Other notable highlights:

    + Greater New Haven is as diverse as the nation as a whole. One in three residents identifies as a race or ethnicity other than “White,” up from one in five in 1990.
    + Our population is aging, raising concerns about the region’s ability to attract and retain a youthful workforce.
    + The region has a highly-educated population, with test scores and high school graduation rates increasing at the State average rate in most areas. Students in Connecticut and in outer suburbs, and students in the City of New Haven who identify as “White,” graduate at rates that are already above the Federal Government’s “Healthy People 2020” target of 82 percent. But low income students are significantly less likely to graduate.
    + The prosperity of suburban towns increasingly depends on the growing number of jobs located within the City of New Haven. Most commuters who hold jobs within a 2 mile radius of New Haven City Hall – 62 percent – hold a “living wage” job. But only 38 percent of employed workers who live within that same area hold one.
    + Greater New Haven is a healthy region, relative to the United States. However, rates of mortality and morbidity in low-income neighborhoods are significantly higher than in surrounding areas, with access to healthy foods, exercise, and safe neighborhoods among the factors identified as key public health concerns.
    + Citizens are confident in their ability to make Greater New Haven a better place. Most residents volunteer, contribute to local causes, and believe that their neighbors would mobilize to take action when needed.

    In addition to mining government data sources, the report shares data from two simultaneous field surveys conducted in 2012 by DataHaven and the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement at the Yale School of Public Health. Additional co-authors and sponsors, including The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the New Haven Health Department, intend to update the Community Index on a regular basis, and use it to create regional “action plans,” identifying how government and business leaders can best measure and accelerate the region’s forward progress. Additional funders included the Carolyn Foundation, United Way of Greater New Haven, NewAlliance Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, The United Illuminating Company and Southern Connecticut Gas, as well as the Donaghue Foundation and Kresge Foundation, which support CARE.