Lawrenceville United uses Pittsburgh LocalData Collaborative to sign up neighborhood children for pre-K and kindergarten

For the past three years GTECH has facilitated the Pittsburgh LocalData Collaborative (PLDC), a digital platform that makes it easy to gather and visualize hyperlocal data about the environment, local businesses, homes and people. LocalData enables members to collect and understand complex data, allowing for better data-driven decisions, without the need for a technical expert. Members of the PLDC range from government municipalities to community based organizations.

PLDC map that spatially captures results of a qualitative survey.
PLDC map that spatially captures results of a qualitative survey.

Surveying and data storage with PLDC is highly accessible. Members of PLDC have access to tablets to perform surveys or can use a personal smartphone. PLDC surveys are customizable to fit organization’s needs to best capture and map data ranging from conditional to geospatial. Best of all, once data is collected it is owned by the community, encouraging residents and organizations to maximize the data’s use.

With all that is possible with the PLDC we love to hear what members are doing with their access to LocalData. Just as we checked in with Operation Better Block’s use of PLDC  we are happy to hear about the success Lawrenceville United has had using LocalData.

Check out what Lawrenceville United’s Community Organizer Dave Breingan had to say about surveying Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and Garfield with PLDC tools.

What did Lawrenceville United use LocalData for?

We partnered with Ready Freddy to use the Pittsburgh LocalData Collaborative to ensure kids living in Garfield, Lawrenceville and Bloomfield were signed up for pre-K and kindergarten. We identified this as a neighborhood issue to be addressed since there were kids showing up for school for the first time at eight years old. Additionally, we knew that there were families who weren’t taking advantage of the high quality pre-K programs in the area, so we wanted to get more families enrolled in that.

To solve this issue we surveyed Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and Garfield to find out where families with young children lived and if they were signed up for pre-K and/or kindergarten, as well as making them aware of other community benefits that would be beneficial to them.

Did you engage volunteers and residents in your LocalData collection efforts?

Yes, we engaged an extremely diverse group of volunteers! We had teachers and principals from our neighborhood schools, parents from the PEP Rally parent groups, social workers, community volunteers, Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation staff and board members, as well as organizations that serve youth like Lawrenceville Family Care Connection, Brothers and Sisters Emerging, and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

All in all, we had two volunteer days where we engaged eighty volunteers and surveyed over 1,400 households!

Volunteers cheering on Arsenal Elementary kindergarteners on their first day of school.
Volunteers cheering on Arsenal Elementary kindergarteners on their first day of school.

Did PLDC’s outreach and volunteer engagement create new connections between residents and volunteers?

Yes, we engaged many folks that had not previously engaged with Lawrenceville United but even better it allowed for community stakeholders to engage with residents outside of school and their organizations, as well as stakeholders were able to meet each other and build beneficial connections.

How was the process of mobile surveying with smartphones and tablets? Did everything run smoothly?

Yes, we mostly used smartphones, a few tablets and a few paper surveys. Before we set out we had a one hour training for volunteers on how to use the various devices. I had paper surveys to use as a backup but fortunately we did not have many issues, so for the most part were able to avoid using paper surveys.

What were the benefits of using PLDC rather than paper surveys?

Of course the reduction of time dedicated to data input was huge but it was also really cool to see the real time data being populated throughout the day, as our volunteers were out surveying. It also allowed us to follow up with the houses that we missed because you can literally see the houses where we hadn’t talked to someone on a map.

What was your favorite tool of LocalData you used?

The ability to map the data we collected. It has helped us continue to do outreach by knowing the spatial areas that need more attention in regards to surveying. It has also been a really efficient way to store data rather than a huge spreadsheet.

Kindergarteners celebrated  their first day of school at Arsenal Elementary in Lawrenceville.
Kindergarteners celebrated their first day of school at Arsenal Elementary in Lawrenceville.

How have you continued to use the data collected through PLDC?

We did a lot of follow up with families that were eligible for kindergarten or pre-K to make sure they were getting enrolled. We also added many new subscribers to our online newsletters and have sent mailings out with information, programs and surveys for local families.

Additionally, we plan to use the data to track demographic changes in the neighborhood as well as follow up with families that in a year will have a child qualified for kindergarten and/or pre-K.

Finally, what were the results of your surveying efforts?

We knocked on more than 5,000 doors over two Saturdays resulting in 241 families being identified. Out of those families six families had children that needed to be signed up for kindergarten and fourteen needed to be registered for pre-K. We then worked with the schools to make sure those kids got registered. We were also able to add 68 families to the Lawrenceville United family newsletter.

Interested in learning more about the PLDC?

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