Expanding Training on Data and Technology to Improve Communities

Funder: Microsoft Technology and Civic Engagement
Contact: Kathryn Pettit kpettit@urban.org
Date: April 2016 - August 2017

Knowledge exchange

The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) and the Microsoft Technology and Civic Engagement (TCE) are partnering to explore what is known about community training on data and technology today. The project will include a written guide and curricula bank that can facilitate improvement and expansion of these programs nationally.

This project focuses on expanding training opportunities for local audiences who work professionally or as civic activists to serve communities and improve neighborhood conditions. Training can help these dedicated individuals use data and technology to perform their daily work more efficiently, effectively, and inclusively.  Examples include ways to access, interpret, combine, and analyze data, as well as approaches to visualize and communicate data-based stories and results. 

We know many local and national groups are already providing valuable training to use data and technology for civic purposes. To build upon current practice, we will first complete a scan of civic training, materials, and curricula that are being offered through local NNIP and TCE partners and other connected national organizations. A session before the fall 2016 NNIP Partners’ Meeting provided additional perspectives and pilot selected trainings.

Based on the knowledge gathered through the scan and working session, NNIP intends to publish a guide in early 2017 about lessons on providing training and a bank of curricula with materials that local trainers are willing to share publicly. By emphasizing the importance of training and facilitating access to ready-to-adapt materials, NNIP and Microsoft TCE hope to expand the quantity and quality of training available to help resident leaders and staff in nonprofits and government agencies better use data and technology to benefit their communities.


NNIP is a collaborative effort between the Urban Institute and local partners in 30 cities who help residents and institutions use data to improve neighborhoods in advocacy, planning, and policymaking. Microsoft’s Technology and Civic Engagement group works with local and national partners on projects that help communities and governments leverage technology to make a sustainable and scalable impact on the lives of city residents.

NNIP and Microsoft TCE share many core values, including the perspective that technology and data are tools to improve community outcomes and the importance of building local capacity to use these levers. We also have similar approaches to working with organizations in our respective focus cities, drawing on interactions with local stakeholders to learn about evolving opportunities and challenges and sharing lessons across cities to scale impact.

NNIP is coordinated by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization that produces independent research to expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. For more details on Urban’s funding principles please visit the website.

See all NNIP items related to the issues:
Civic engagement

Participating Partners:

Urban Institute