From the Start: DataHaven

From the Start: DataHaven

If a picture can tell a story, then what can 500 dots on a neighborhood map tell us? If your map was prepared by DataHaven, you have a detailed story about a neighborhood and the lives of the people who live there.

For 25 years, DataHaven has been the go-to data resource for professionals across public and social service sectors — starting in Greater New Haven and expanding its reach statewide. Health care administrators, municipal leaders, nonprofit executive directors, community organizers and many others across Connecticut rely on DataHaven for information they need to create and inform their programs, apply for funding, and act on the most pressing challenges in their communities.

DataHaven was born of the idea that public data, like water, is a resource that should be easily accessed and widely available. The Community Foundation was there in the beginning as a founding partner. Since providing the seed funding that helped establish the organization, The Foundation has invested more than $750,000 in DataHaven.

DataHaven offers local organizations, especially small nonprofits, access to data and analysis that would otherwise be too expensive for their budgets. And its neighborhood-level research about Greater New Haven and Connecticut cannot be found anywhere else.

The Community Wellbeing Survey, DataHaven’s largest program, polls some 17,000 adults across Connecticut to produce information about quality of life, public health, economic development, and civic vitality. Survey results are compiled for over 100 partners in state and local government, health care, academia, as well as the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.

“The topics measured in the survey are generally things that we can’t measure from other public data sources,” says DataHaven Executive Director Mark Abraham. “Many times, towns or neighborhoods that are trying to address or highlight an issue in their community … have the trouble of finding data that is relevant to everyone who lives in that neighborhood, so [the survey] fills in the gaps in what’s available.”

DataHaven uses the survey data to publish comprehensive community reports for The Foundation and its partners in philanthropy, the Valley Community Foundation, Branford Community Foundation, and Guilford Community Foundation. As part of its process, DataHaven engages with residents and holds community events to discuss the results.

In recent years, DataHaven has expanded its services statewide to community foundations, agencies, and other organizations. Its data-driven reports have focused on a range of topics including early childhood education, the impact of immigration, and how transportation influences job access. A testament to DataHaven’s value is the broad support it receives — 60 funders including hospitals, governments, United Ways, and community foundations.

“Having this kind of neighborhood data is helpful to foundations in understanding the communities in which they want to give and helps them evaluate their work over time,” says Connecticut Council for Philanthropy President Karla Fortunato.

Did you  know? 

A Harvard University study has determined that neighborhood environment plays a larger role than family income level in determining whether children prosper as adults.
 

This article is part of a series of stories celebrating The Community Foundation's 90th Anniversary.

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