Students are not accessories, apples, or sneakers, but as communities seek to help kids do better, they can employ the same data management techniques that big merchandisers use to see what’s hot, what’s not and to decide what do to about it.
For me, well into Day Two of the Strive national cradle to career network convening in Milwaukee, that was a key takeaway during this morning’s plenary featuring Target’s Reba Dominski.
Dominski, now director of community relations, was responsible for improving the sale of Target merchandise by acting on real-time data during her 15 years as a buyer there. And today, as its director of community relations, she’s making a strong case about why the prescriptive use of data is so important to help kids.
The big theme of this year’s convening is about using data to improve rather than prove. More than 400 people from 70 communities here are serious about this work, and are developing some impressive strategies using data to improve the human condition in their own back yard.
To cite two strong examples: In Portland, All Hands Raised, the backbone organization for Portland and Multnomah County’s collective impact partnership, is using data about historic discrepancies around racial education inequalities in their community. With data in hand, they chose the elimination of racial disparities as its number one priority and launched a community collaborative on this topic in partnership with the Coalition of Communities of Color.
They will craft a comprehensive strategy to right the wrongs they see, including increasing graduation rates of students of color. This will have a lasting impact on education, poverty and overall well-being in their community.
In San Antonio, when budget cuts impacted busing there, the P16Plus Council of Greater Baxar County data that showed Pre-K through First Grade kids who lived outside of the two-mile reach of bus service began to be chronically absent. Parents with no transportation began to keep their kids at home. This cost the school district millions of dollars in education support, and had the potential for grave long-term harm for kids in their most important stage of learning.
The solution: Smaller buses to pick up kids and even a roving bus, featuring a collection of walkers gathering up kids along the way and escorting them to school.
This is really cool stuff, and it’s fun to see communities all over the United States here getting great ideas and making decisions about how they will use data to support kids every step of the way, from cradle to career.
To read more from the convening, check our my colleagues’ posts. Matt Williams writes about the power of data interpreted correctly (ask Aaron Rodgers), and Jamie Berg wrote a strong overview of Day One of the convening.