Data Capacity Tools

The Elevate Data for Equity project encourages investment in data capacity to enhance a community’s ability to achieve ambitious goals and advance equitable outcomes. Below are resources that foundations and other local groups can consult to learn how to assess and improve data skills and practices. The list includes tools and guides organized by the different levels of community data capacity described in Investing in Data Capacity for Community Change: individual, organizational, and collective.

Individual Capacity

Digital Defense Playbook: Community Power Tools for Reclaiming Data
Our Data Bodies, 2018 

This workbook contains education activities for the public focused on data, surveillance, and community safety to create and share knowledge, analyses, and tools for data justice and data access for equity. It includes tools, tip sheets, reflection pieces, and rich stories.

NNIP Data and Tech Training Catalog
National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, 2017

This catalog contains descriptions and downloadable materials from training courses that advance data and technology literacy. It focuses primarily on in-person trainings that have been conducted by local institutions such as nonprofit organizations, universities, and government agencies across the country. In addition to the catalog is a brief on the value of data and tech training and guidance for organizations that want to conduct training.

Data Culture Project
MIT Center for Civic Media, 2018

The Data Culture Project is a free, self-directed learning program to facilitate creative introductions to data. The hands-on activities are designed to build the data capacity of people with varying levels of technical experience. The videos and facilitation guides enable people to independently lead the activities for their organizations. 

Data Walks: An Innovative Way to Share Data with Communities
Urban Institute, 2015

This guide describes how to design and implement data walks, which are an approach to sharing data and findings with community residents. Data walks can ensure a more robust analysis and understanding of data, improve programming and policies, and inspire action among participants.

Library of User Personas for Open Data
Sunlight Foundation, 2018

This library collects user personas created by various organizations with different contexts for using data. Creating user personas is a human-centered design practice that can be used to understand and communicate about the needs and behaviors of different types of data users. 

Organizational Capacity                       

Data Maturity Framework for the Not-For-Profit Sector
Data Orchard, 2019

This assessment framework created for nonprofit organizations presents seven aspects of organizational data maturity, with markers for a five-point rating scale from “unaware” to “mastering.” 

GovEx Survey of Data Practices            
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence, 2018

This is a comprehensive online assessment tool that covers 12 areas of data practice based on best practices learned through the What Works Cities program. The tool, which can be downloaded, produces a report that gives respondents a high-level picture of the state of their data practices. 

Measure4Change Learning Tools
Urban Institute, 201516

The Urban Institute developed a set of tools related to performance management and evaluation for nonprofit organizations as part of the Measure4Change in-depth coaching initiative. Publications cover building an organizational learning culture, communicating with data, understanding performance management to evaluation, and guides on specific aspects of performance management. 

NNIP’s Resource Guide to Data Governance and Security, 2018
National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership

This guide presents advice and annotated resources for the three parts of a data governance program: protecting privacy and human subjects, ensuring data security, and managing the data life cycle. While applicable to data that are not sensitive, the guide is geared toward managing confidential data, such as data used in integrated data systems or pay for success programs. 

Collective Capacity

Investing in Data Capacity for Community Change
Urban Institute, 2020

This brief encourages foundations to use their resources and influence to help remedy both the overall shortage and the unequal distribution of skills and resources to use data to improve communities and advance equity. It describes how foundations can promote the use of data by grantees, champion community data resources and capacity, and invest directly in building community-wide capacity. It also describes 16 components of community data capacity, including enabling resources and skills and practices at the individual, organizational, and collective levels. 

Guide to Civic Tech and Data Ecosystem Mapping
National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, 2018

Civic tech and data ecosystems are dynamic networks shaped by interactions between local actors who use or create data and technology to improve civic life. Ecosystem mapping is a process to visualize a community’s network and understand how each organization contributes or could contribute to common goals. This document provides guidance on key questions to ask when getting started, data collection methods, and ways to analyze and use ecosystem maps to strengthen community relationships.

Introduction to Data Sharing and Integration
Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, 2020

This is a primer on using, sharing, and integrating administrative data. It covers the motivations for sharing data, steps on how to begin, and potential use cases.

Civic Switchboard Guide
Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 2020

This online guide aims to encourage public and academic libraries to connect to their civic data ecosystems and build local data capacity. It has sections on civic data concepts, partner engagement, ecosystems, library roles, and case studies. The guide is a part of a project that is called Civic Switchboard: Connecting Libraries and Community Information Networks and is led by a collaboration of the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center and Pittsburgh-based libraries.