Shift Research Lab

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The Piton Foundation

Jennifer Newcomer, Director of Research

The Piton Foundation’s Shift Research Lab, formerly the Data Initiative, educates and empowers social change organizations by providing reliable, objective data and analysis to inform their decision-making process with sound insight. Through our products and services, we offer free, neighborhood-level data and analysis via online platforms, perform objective research to support community change initiatives, and provide technical assistance that helps organizations build their capacity to use data.


The Data Initiative was founded in 1991 by the The Piton Foundation, a private, philanthropic foundation that believes community-building efforts should be informed by reliable and objective information. While there were consulting firms in the area with similar capacities, the program was designed to work in service of social change organizations that are committed to improving the lives of Colorado’s low-income children, families and communities. The Data Initiative changed its name to Shift Research Lab in late 2016, and it is focused on expanding its reach and impact so it can further its mission of pioneering a data-driven culture within Colorado’s social sector. Shift advocates for the democratization of data and believes that by openly sharing, analyzing, and monitoring data, communities are able to tackle to most pervasive social issues with confidence, clarity and empathy.

Shift maintains a robust data warehouse to enable proactive, in-depth data analysis across multiple issues. Its current warehouse covers a wide array of information about people, education, health, public safety, and housing.

The following is a brief description of the services we provide to our partners:

Open Data Tools: We develop and maintain web-based technology tools that provide free data and analysis about social issues. Our open data platform help social change organizations better understand the communities they serve so they can make more informed decisions in their work.

Research: We conduct research and analysis to better understand the challenges facing the Denver metro region, then we make the findings available through reports and digital information tools. Our research and analysis supports key policy and social sector initiatives related to issues such as early childhood, demographic changes, transit-oriented development, the urban economy and affordable housing.

Community Assessment: We help organizations monitor community-level change so they can determine the efficacy and impact of their strategic investments, programs or initiatives and make better decisions related to their work. In addition, we help our partners integrate data and technology more directly into their work by building data and research tools that support community change initiatives.

Capacity Building: As a service to the metro Denver community, we help nonprofits, governments and other social change organizations build their capacity to use data by providing technical assistance such as mapping analysis, data visualization and sense-making support. In addition, we engage in local and national partnerships and collaboratives that help create a data-driven culture.

Matt Barry
Vice President of Strategic Assessment
Jennifer Newcomer
Director of Research


July 31, 2011
Floodlight: See and show your community in a new light Your story matters. Without it, nothing happens. Floodlight is a new, free web-based storytelling project that gives... [read more]
July 2012 - September 2013
The Piton Foundation is trying to better understand the impacts the built environment has on child well-being.  How can Piton and its partners develop a better understanding of what constitutes... [read more]


May 31, 2017
Blog post - By: Kelly Nelson

Shift Research Lab

February 16, 2017
Presentation - By: Jennifer Newcomer

Shift Research Lab

September 14, 2016
Blog post - By: Mingming Zhang

Shift Research Lab

July 14, 2016
Training materials - By: Mingming Zhang

Shift Research Lab


Partner Webinars

December 31, 1969

In 2014, we began holding virtual idea showcases after partners expressed the desire for more NNIP conversations between in-person meetings. Thanks to Idea Showcases, partners have shared their... [read more]

Presenters Jennifer Newcomer, Shift Research Lab, Yujie Hu, The Kinder Institute, Mary Newsom, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
February 16, 2017 - 1:00pm

... [read more]

Presenters Maxwell Austensen, NYU Furman Center, John Cruz, Rise , Courtney Denton, CI:NOW, Jennifer Newcomer, Shift Research Lab