Introducing Learning Cohorts

The Commit! Partnership and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas partnered to launch a Data Learning Cohort for education-focused nonprofits to build their capacity to use data for program improvement and to foster collaboration among providers.

Program Overview

Through a series of workshops that ran from February – May 2015, participants used program-specific data to pose and answer real-world questions, address key organizational challenges, and develop quantitative problem-solving skills. Selected organizations who complete the workshop program received a stipend of $1,500.

Program Requirements

  1. Must be a Commit! partner or United Way of Metropolitan Dallas grantee focused on Early Childhood, K-12 or Postsecondary Education (do not necessarily need to work directly with students)
  2. Must pledge to use data to improve programming
  3. Must assign a consistent staff member interested in data to attend workshops (at most twice a month) and dedicate at least 6-8 hours a week in their job to work on data-related organizational needs
  4. Must be willing to share current and future uses of data within organization (in order to show progress)
  5. Must be willing to engage in follow-up after workshop series, including surveys and demonstrations of application of knowledge so the workshop series can be improved over time

Commit! and United Way Partnered to Launch Spring 2015 Data Cohort

In collaboration with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD), the Commit! Partnership launched its inaugural Data Cohort in March with the goal of equipping each participant to become leaders in data quality and data analysis within their organizations. Participants meet every two weeks, over 4 months, for a total of 8 sessions, representing the following 14 organizations:

Classes build on each other and include topics such as improving usage of public data sources, increasing comfort with Microsoft Excel, introducing and implementing Continuous Quality Improvement, understanding and interpreting data results, and visualizing data. The first two classes have laid the foundation, allowing participants to level set on data use and knowledge. One participant stated, “I had to do some self-reflection about my basic Excel skills.” We value the honesty, tenacity, and graciousness of each of our participants!

The workshops attempt to model continuous improvement by responding to anonymous survey results to tweak content. For example, participants requested more time to interact with each other and subsequent classes have incorporated more interactive activities.

Most classes feature at least one guest speaker, exposing participants to different perspectives on data use. Commit! and UWMD staff also make time every week to work one-on-one with participants, a major benefit of the cohort.

Want to learn more or contribute to these efforts? Please contact ashwina.kirpalani@commit2dallas.org.