Engaging Youth with Data for COVID-19 Response and Recovery


Funder: Annie E. Casey Foundation
Contact: Leah Hendey lhendey@urban.org
Date: July 2020 - March 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic has lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, causing financial hardships for many people and battering economies for local communities. All of this is disproportionately affecting people of color and those with low incomes. This crisis has also revealed and magnified gaps in data and information that need to be addressed for communities to take informed action in pandemic response and recovery. Communities – and the nonprofits, foundations, and governments that serve them – urgently need assistance with accessing and interpreting data for decisionmaking, as well as communicating data to the public about the patterns of COVID-19 infections and the community response efforts

With grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, NNIP Partners in Chicago, Durham, and San Antonio used local data sources and community input to guide COVID-19 response and recovery efforts in their communities. Each local project engaged young with data to enhance the effectiveness and equity of programs, policies, and other community strategies. 

Local Projects

  • Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University (Chicago): In collaboration with Communities United (CU), a grassroots, intergenerational racial justice organization, the Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) engaged with youth and families in five neighborhoods in Chicago to identify housing and community development challenges resulting from COVID-19. The project documented neighborhood conditions using local data on public and private sources, amplified the lived experiences of young people, and informed strategies to address inequities exacerbated by COVID-19. CU identified five youth leaders to participate in an advisory board for the project and who helped design and disseminate a survey touching on key housing and community issues. In the survey youth expressed challenges related to loss of household income, increased anxiety, adjusting to remote learning, and gun violence. The most important resources youth considered to be missing from their communities included mental health services, job opportunities, and affordable housing. IHS shared these results with the youth and got feedback on how they reflected the youths' lived experiences. IHS also created a data workbook on indicators identified from priority issues in the survey that can be used to inform future advocacy campaigns. IHS and Communities United are continuing to work together to on a project to support immigrant communities and preserving affordable housing.
  • DataWorks NC (Durham): Through their project, DataWorks NC expanded community knowledge of the impacts of COVID-19 to include the perspectives of young people and spread information about evictions and eviction diversion resources to families most directly impacted by COVID-19. To staff this project, they hired a high school student intern through Hillside New Tech High School who focused on communicating qualitative research findings from a facilitated peer workshop. A graduate school intern focused on developing their GIS skills and analyzing property level records to inform efforts to identify problem evictors. Together, the two interns elevated the stories and experiences of community members facing eviction during COVID-19, generated data presentations to contextualize those experiences, and expanded DataWorks NC's knowledge base of policy solutions. These lessons from research and engagement were disseminated through a new podcast featuring their high school intern and members of the full project team. This project built upon DataWorks NC's ongoing anti-eviction work, including the "Who Owns Durham" project, which explores the corporate ownership of Durham housing.
  • Community Information Now (San Antonio): Community Information Now (CI:Now) partnered with the statewide group MOVE Texas to elevate opportunities to support young people through the City of San Antonio (COSA) $191 million COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Plan and related recovery initiatives. MOVE Texas works to engage and mobilize young people ages 18 to 30 with an emphasis on young people of color. Through this work, CI:Now aimed to increase young people's data literacy and ability to communicate their needs and priorities to COSA and the larger community. In collaboration, CI:Now and MOVE Texas surveyed young people about their priorities and needs and put together an overview of local and federal relief efforts and mechanisms young people can use to connect with officials to advocate for their needs. CI:Now produced an infographic and storymap that highlighted both the quantitative data from the survey and lifted up the voices of the youth. CI:Now found that youth were most concerned about keeping spirits up, job security, and caring for their loved ones, one-quarter had experienced a loss of income, and many expressed anger, fear, and uncertainty.
See all NNIP items related to the issues:
COVID-19, Youth


Participating Partners:

Institute for Housing Studies
DataWorks NC
Community Information Now (CI:Now)