Youth Data Collaborative Helps Systems Work Together

Coordinating education, development, and enrichment services for youth in Chicago

Across the city of Chicago, youth opportunities and experiences are shaped by a range of systems: schools, out-of-school time services, and sometimes criminal justice and child welfare. Yet while these systems serve the same youth, their ability to share information and coordinate their efforts is limited.

The Youth Data Collaborative at Chapin Hall began in 2013 as an effort to help these systems work together. Our broad mission is to build the capacity of youth service organizations to use data reflectively and effectively to better meet the needs of Chicago’s youth.

Through training, facilitated conversation, and custom-designed administrative data products, the Youth Data Collaborative helps operators of youth programs understand the strengths and needs of youth in the city. Information used includes academic progression, attitudes and behaviors, criminal justice contact, and experiences of trauma. All of this is used to inform outreach strategies, program design, formation of partnerships, communications and fundraising, and continuous quality improvement.

Although Chapin Hall convenes the Collaborative, its nonprofit and public agency partners jointly set priorities for and lead our evolving work. This ensures that our efforts work to meet the needs of practitioners. These partners contribute on-the-ground perspective for needs of the service ecosystem and vision for how data can inform their work. In turn, Chapin Hall provides the legal and technical expertise to ensure appropriate access, storage, use, and reporting of data on youth; and its research team works to create new analysis and reports that meet that vision. In 2018, our work guided efforts to improve programs that serve more than 78,000 youth in Chicago.

The Collaborative non-profit and public agency partners include:

As the research partner and convener of this Youth Data Collaborative, Chapin Hall brings considerable experience helping organizations design effective policies, strategies and programs that deliver results.  Dr. Nick Mader, a Senior Researcher at Chapin Hall, brings his experience in analyzing linked administrative data to understand how youth experience—and are influenced by—many institutions and supports in the community.  Researcher Aida Pacheco-Applegate develops novel analysis and supports for partners in interpreting and using their data.

One recent result of Collaborative work was an analysis of Chicago Public Library’s Teacher in the Library program. Chapin Hall analysis found that this growing program was reaching its target population—the youth most in need of tutoring as defined by test scores and income categories.

Email us to learn more about the Youth Data Collaborative at Chapin Hall.