Thursday, November 14, 2019

TECH: New Site Shows City Issues at a Glance

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2019 at 10:40 AM

click to enlarge Community Foundation of Greater Memphis CEO Bob Fockler and Executive Vice President Sutton Mora Hayes - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Community Foundation of Greater Memphis CEO Bob Fockler and Executive Vice President Sutton Mora Hayes

Memphis has problems and hundreds of organizations fighting to ease them; a new tool maps them together, making it easier to find out who’s fighting what where and how you can help.

The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis (CFGM) launched two websites in 2015. One (Where We Live MidSouth) was a clearing house of information about the region, rich with data about everything from air quality to the unemployment rate mapped by ZIP Code, Census tract, and more. Another, (Where to Give MidSouth) was a clearing house of information about nonprofit agencies working on problems here from housing to healthcare.

“There were two systems and you could flip back and forth between them but it wasn’t a single, unified system and that was a little frustrating,” said Bob Fockler, president of the CFGM.

The two systems were also built by two different groups, one by the University of Memphis and the other by Guidestar, the nonprofit information service. For the new site, CFGM hired Thriving Cities Group, an urban advocacy group based in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The new CFGM site (Live Give MidSouth) is built on Thriving Cities’ City RoundTable platform. “Philanthropy is a centerpiece of our civic ecosystem that urgently needs to be reconfigured and redirected,” according to Thriving Cities. Its platform shines a brighter, more-complete light on cities’ problems, helping donors invest their funds with greater accuracy.

  • Community Foundation of Greater Memphis

Where in Memphis are education rates low? What organizations are working to fix that? With a couple of clicks on the new CFGM site, you can filter the hundreds of nonprofits here down to those working on education, for example. Another click will show you which nonprofits are working in neighborhoods with the lowest education rates. Another click will give you a full, uniform description of the nonprofit, its leadership, financials, and more.

Olivia Wilmot, CFGM’s director of community information, says the site can help donors look under the hood of a nonprofit before they invest with them. But she’s seeing nonprofits dig into the data, too.

  • Community Foundation of Greater Memphis

”What we found in the nonprofit side was that organizations were actually using data for the first time and accompanying their grant applications with Census data and baseline information about the communities that they serve and maps,” Wilmot said. “I helped two organization use the map to help them figure out where to put a new location.”

All of the data on the site — from the environment to the economy — is publicly available, Wilmott said. But finding it and piecing it together is tough. The new platform seeks to pull that data from many silos, pour it all together, and make it easier for anyone who wants a more-clear (and data-driven) picture of what’s really happening in the Memphis community.
“We've always said that people respond when they understand what the problems are,” Fockler said. “To the extent that the problems are informed by data and the better access people have to the data, the more willing they are to step up and get involved: volunteer, or write a check, or serve on a board. Data informs everything, directly or indirectly.“

The new Live Give MidSouth site from CFGM launches Friday, November 15th.

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