Thursday, September 2, 2004

United Way hires UC to help analyze community's needs

By Denise Amos
Enquirer staff writer

The United Way of Greater Cincinnati signed a deal with the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday, hiring UC researchers to gather and analyze local data in hopes the information will improve the agency's services.

The United Way agreed to pay UC's Institute for Policy Research $150,000 annually to create the Community Research Collaborative. It will consist of UC researchers using mostly existing data from various sources to help the United Way prioritize community needs and rate efforts for effectiveness.

The United Way now gets community data from a variety of sources, said Robert Reifsnyder, United Way president.

"We've been getting research, but we've been putting it together with spit and baling wire," he said.

The collaborative will save the agency money in the long run, he said, because the nonprofit won't have to hire staff to turn the data into policy recommendations.

Some of the "community indicator" data they will use are census records, health statistics, employment and income statistics, and neighborhood crime records. UC also will train United Way personnel to evaluate the data.

"We're dealing with limited resources and being able to make relative decisions about how to allocate those resources is important," said Ross Love, United Way chairman.

The collaboration also will produce a Web site, a clearinghouse for the data that the public can access for free, said Mark Carrozza, the UC senior research associate who championed the idea.

The Web site and address might be available in a month, he said.

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