News

This project uses open data to help plug opportunity gaps

By Laura Devaney, Director of News, @eSN_Laura
October 28th, 2016

The Opportunity Project encourages partnerships and data use to empower communities with information access

open data

An expanded federal initiative aims to use open data to improve opportunities, including educational opportunities, for Americans.

Originally launched by President Obama in March 2016, the Opportunity Project is intended to jumpstart the creation of new digital tools that use federal and local data to empower communities with information about critical resources, such as affordable housing, quality schools, and jobs.

The project provides easy access to curated federal and local datasets at opportunity.census.gov, and facilitates collaboration between technologists, issue experts, and community leaders.

Twenty-two non-governmental organizations and seven student teams participated in the Opportunity Project. They were asked to develop solutions for problem statements put forth by several federal agencies. The teams—including LiveStories—presented their solutions at a White House event.

The Department of Education identified a national priority to help students, schools, and community leaders navigate information about educational equity and opportunity.

One new free tool aims to make it easy for parents and stakeholders to compare school districts across the U.S. to determine if students have equal opportunities to succeed.

LiveStories IQ puts digital tools and data in families’ hands to help them navigate resources pertaining to school information. It can help superintendents, government education agencies, policymakers and parents identify and understand where inequities exist between districts, between schools, and between different student demographics. Users also can compare school districts with similar profiles and learn from communities facing the same challenges as theirs.

LiveStories focused on a problem posed by the U.S. Department of Education: identifying inequities in the nation’s 95,000-plus public schools for such factors as per-pupil expenditure, teacher experience, access to rigorous coursework, and chronic absenteeism.

Data Society and Kitamba worked together to build the “Philadelphia School Community Resource Mapper” to help school leaders find and develop community partnerships, and to help non-profit service providers identify regions where their services can have the greatest impact. They brought together data from the Census Bureau, HHS, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

GreatSchools and Education Cities’ “Opportunity Dashboard” uses college readiness data from the Department of Education’s CRDC to measure gaps in access to educational opportunities across student groups to help parents, educators, and advocates fight for equity and improvement.

The project also resulted in new commitments from federal government, nonprofits, tech companies, coding boot camps, and academic institutions to use project data to create or use digital tools to build stronger opportunities nationwide, such as the Department of Labor and Department of Education’s commitment to co-lead a new Opportunity Project challenge, new funding from Coursera for universities to develop courses that use the Opportunity Project data in their curriculum, and more.

About the Author:

Laura Devaney

Laura Ascione Devaney is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


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