Become a Partner

The process for an organization (be it a single institution or formal collaboration) in a metropolitan area or rural county to apply to be an NNIP partner is outlined on this page. As coordinator of NNIP, Urban Institute manages the new partner application process. Organizations are eligible to begin the application process when they have been providing data intermediary services in their community consistent with the NNIP model. 

NNIP's Guide to Starting a Local Data Intermediary

The Guide is designed for those interested in becoming local data intermediaries and for foundations or nonprofit organizations that are interested in bringing this capacity to their communities. It will help potential intermediaries to think about the broader environment as well as the technical and business aspects of setting up a local data intermediary. A note that the guide was written a few years ago and does not reflect the current explict recognition of NNIP partners advancing racial equity.

Though we had to write it all down sequentially, the process is not linear, and users of the guide may find that reviewing sections over time is more helpful than reading it from front to back. The guide is broken up into five major chapters:

  • Describing a local data intermediary and the NNIP model
  • Deciding what data intermediary services a community needs and who should provide them 
  • Funding a local data intermediary
  • Getting started on operating an intermediary 
  • Continuous learning 
Selection Process

For organizations in metros with an established NNIP partner, we ask other organizations in the area who are interested in joining NNIP contact the local partner to discuss NNIP participation. For organizations in other cities that are interested in joining NNIP, applications are accepted from established data intermediary organizations on an invitation-only basis. The selection process consists of the following steps:

  1. Scan NNIP's Guide to Starting a Local Data Intermediary
  2. Email your interest to Kathy Pettit at [email protected].
  3. Speak with Urban staff to review the criteria for membership in NNIP and assess your organization's fit.
  4. Urban staff will invite you as a guest to the NNIP partner meeting to allow you to learn more about the network and introduce partners to your organization.  Attendance at a partners’ meeting is required before submitting a formal application.
  5. Urban staff invites you to complete a draft application. This includes references, a data inventory, and a letter of intent pledging to develop further local collaboration around data dissemination and applications in your area in the future.
  6. After comments from Urban staff, applicants submit a final application which reviewed by the Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee decides if the application is ready to proceed or if there are additional questions for the potential partner to address.
  7. If the Executive Committee endorses the application, then it is sent to all local partners for a two-week review period.
  8. If no serious concerns are raised, then the organization is accepted into the network.

Major Benefits of Membership

  • Access to a dynamic learning network of individuals working on common goals and struggling with similar challenges in their communities.
  • Invitation to partnership meetings.
  • Access to national connections, technical assistance, and topical expertise of Urban Institute staff.
  • Eligibility to participate in cross-site projects (selection varies by project).
  • Increased exposure through Urban staff highlighting partners’ innovative projects and local successes to national forums and funders.
  • Demonstration of organizational capacity and connection to national policy and practitioner networks for local fundraising efforts.

Expectations for Partners

  • Maintain the NNIP standards in their home area, specifically:
    • Build and operate an information system with recurrently updated data on neighborhood conditions across topics;
    • Facilitate and promote the direct practical use of data by community and government leaders in community building and local policymaking; and
    • Emphasize the use of information to build the capacities of institutions and residents in distressed neighborhoods.
  • Contribute to the knowledge sharing and supportive network of the partnership.
  • Submit updates on recent partner activities and data inventory at least semi-annually.
  • Regularly attend and participate in partnership meetings.
  • Recognize and promote the network as appropriate to local and national audiences.

Key Characteristics of Partner Organizations

  • Currently operating as a local data intermediary consistent with the NNIP model
  • Positive and collaborative working relationships with a wide range of local institutions.
  • Reputation for neutral information and data.
  • Strong leadership.
  • Technical and staff capacity to provide data intermediary services.
  • Stable institutional home.
  • Mission fit with organization.