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In 1991 the Data Initiative was founded on the Piton Foundation's belief that philanthropic and community building efforts are durable when informed by reliable and objective information. The Data Initiative was originally created to serve the entire community. While there were consulting firms in the area with similar capacities, the Data Initiative was built to offer to the public, free of charge neighborhood and school mapping and community level data and analysis, and to be in service to organizations including foundations, community organizations, government agencies, close partners, and internal program staff. Consistently central to the effectiveness of the Data Initiative has been the delivery of objective research to ensure relevancy in policy and program design conversations. The Data Initiative also has maintained a robust data warehouse to enable proactive, in depth data analysis across multiple issues. The current warehouse covers a wide array of information about people, education, health, public safety, and housing.
The Data Initiative has evolved, taking lessons from past experience, working to remain relevant in today’s environment. The Initiative focuses on innovation and building the field of data-driven decision making to support community change. The Initiative staff access data and information, develop products, and engage in initiatives in a way that carries lessons learned from one project to the next. Additionally, products and tools are constructed to be comprehensive and transferable to other initiatives with minimal effort.
The Data Initiative uses information and communication to bring people closer to their neighbors and their larger community through a deeper understanding of the collective challenges they face. It also engages the general public as well as civic and community based institutions, the media, business and government in better understanding the region's key challenges and opportunities through shared access to high quality, objective data. A backbone of today’s Data Initiative is the effective use of technology to build data and research tools that support community change initiatives. The Initiative is on the front edge of the field, experimenting with innovative web-based tools and information platforms that provide freely available administrative data sets and analysis. The Data Initiative offers the following products and services:
Technology Tools. On the Piton Foundation website, the Community Facts and School Facts applications allow visitors to find information and perform basic analysis on Denver’s neighborhoods and schools. The Data Initiative also offers support to other community organizations to integrate data and technology more directly into their work.
Community Mapping and Analysis.
The Data Initiative has unique expertise in conducting urban spatial analysis, helping “clients” to better understand a community’s characteristics, and strategically plan for opportunities and challenges. The Data Initiative works with community partner organizations, such as the Urban Land Conservancy and Metro Organizations for People, to analyze and visually display information relevant to their work.
Data Visualization and Sensemaking.
Staff work with individuals and organizations to understand complex data and research and are skilled in graphic representation and visual displays that help to explain social issues to non-data audiences.
Data and Evaluation Support to Social Sector Initiatives.
The Data Initiative performs research and analysis in support of key policy initiatives, including but not limited to early education, public education, transit oriented development, and affordable housing.
Internal Research and Development within the Foundation.
In addition to its work to support the broader community, the Data Initiative performs research and analysis to help the Foundation make more informed program and funding decisions.
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