How can data best be gathered and used to inform decisions about how to support afterschool and summer programs, attract more students to them and allocate resources? This 10-step guide from RAND offers insights into collecting, analyzing and managing data to improve decision-making. Its target is expanded learning intermediaries, organizations that coordinate efforts and resources in a given community to knit programs together into a cohesive system. The guide was commissioned by Every Hour Counts, with support from Wallace and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
The authors reviewed data collection efforts among expanded learning intermediaries in three cities—Boston; St. Paul, Minn.; and Providence, R.I.—and developed a step-by-step plan to help nonprofits in other cities implement their own processes for harnessing data effectively.
According to the guide, these processes should be shaped by each city’s local context and unique needs. Identifying key stakeholders and setting specific goals for data collection and use are key to understanding how best to approach the work, the guide’s authors write. What’s more, the process should be adaptable.
Expanded learning intermediaries should regularly evaluate and troubleshoot their data systems to ensure effectiveness, the guide notes. This ten-step plan serves as a starting point to help improve the ways in which they use data to benefit the programs, communities and young people they serve.