Real data impact real lives

Data Driven Detroit is dedicated to helping community development through the sharing of data. Constantly working with community groups to create positive change, D3 uses data to fuel sound decisions.  

 In partnership with Starfish Family Services, a non-profit child and family service agency, D3 is providing data on families in 14 communities in Western Wayne County. With a focus on the City of Inkster, D3 will examine factors including high school graduation rates, teen pregnancy rates and household income. These findings will allow Starfish to plan strategically to meet the more dire needs of the communities it serves.  

Starfish CEO Ann Kalass said the data will especially help them improve their early childhood programs.

“We want to understand what is it that the community needs, what resource services exist to meet those needs and where the gaps are,” she said.  

Since childhood development is Starfish’s main focus, D3 is looking at the number of mothers who smoke during pregnancy, the number of mothers who received late or no prenatal care and similar factors to determine the childhood needs in the community.  

Kalass said she is most interested in the stress index D3 is creating for the families.  After reviewing education levels, poverty levels, health care availability and the lack of other resources, D3 will create an index that measures the stress levels of residents.  

“This information will put us in better touch with the community we serve,” said Kalass. “The better informed we are, the better job we are going to do in fulfilling our mission.”  

Thus far, the D3 team has found the City of Inkster to have the greatest need out of the 14 communities. “The data show through income levels, limited health care access and calls to the 211 help line they are lacking the basic necessities,” said Katharine Frohardt-Lane, D3 research analyst.  

In June, Starfish held a community stakeholders meeting at which D3 joined Inkster’s literacy advocates, educators, religious leaders and other community leaders as they discussed ways to more effectively serve their community. The meeting gave D3 an opportunity to share their contributions to the improvement of Inkster and also hear the community’s concerns, which provided focus to their data collection. Kalass was grateful that D3 could be a part of the conversation. “I think the meeting helped them put some texture and community face behind the numbers,” she said.  

D3 continues to look for ways to take information and make it useable to the public, said Kurt Metzger, Director of Data Driven Detroit.  

“One of our primary reasons for being is to get communities and community residents to utilize information,” he said. “We also want to work with organizations to help them better understand the data. “