Improvement of communities, providing leadership and insight on tough issues, nourishing greater effectiveness and efficiency in nonprofit and government organizations – those goals motivate us to accomplish as much as we can through research and nonpartisan action, in collaboration with many of you, our partners – during 2009.
Twin Cities Compass, successfully launched last year, will work in partnership with initiatives striving to improve the quality of life in the region. We expect to focus at least on the topics of housing and education, and we’ve been invited to partner with a consortium of organizations throughout Dakota County, for a unified approach to address the issues that area faces.
Minnesota Compass will extend to all regions of Minnesota greater capability to understand their trends, strengths, and weaknesses, and to promote positive change.
Sadly, the region continues to need homelessness studies. The Wilder Research Homeless Management Information System compiles an up-to-date account of homelessness needs and services; it will offer baseline information in 2009, perhaps tentatively for a while, until we fine tune the system to present the data in the most effective way and with the highest possible credibility. In addition, our every-third-year homelessness survey comes due this year; it captures in-depth information about the characteristics of homeless individuals and families, reasons for homelessness, etc. Everyone wonders what the housing crisis and the foreclosure trends of 2008 might have caused. Our research will find out in detail. If there is any silver lining to doing these studies, it’s that Minnesota stands out among the fifty states for our understanding of homelessness issues, coupled with our compassion and our resolve to do something about those issues.
Long-term care, health disparities, and medical home are three health-related topics on which we definitely have plans to work. As well, we may conduct a major study of universal health care.
Work completed on an Early Childhood Asset Review and Business Plan will likely receive public attention.
Studies on the following topics will commence, or expand into full operation: children’s mental health; supportive housing; early education; adoption programs for older teens; faith-based mentoring programs in 16 cities; child care use; parenting education; and more.
Seminars, conferences, and other convening that we will sponsor to raise awareness and to foster productive action include: older adult service needs; health disparities; child care use; teen adoption; housing and homelessness; implementation of the medical home concept; and more. We will continue our series of free seminars (begun in September of 2008) to educate nonprofit managers about program evaluation.
Events confirmed so far:
- Increasing post-secondary education access and success (February)
- Early childhood neglect and trauma (March)
- Youth tobacco marketing issues (March)
- Early childhood, child care use, conference (April)
- Evaluation series for nonprofit managers (February, May)
Understanding “return on investment” of nonprofit and government efforts – we will continue to increase work on this topic, on our own and with partners. In the present context of recession and government spending reductions, this topic has more importance than ever. The conference we sponsored in 2008 will probably return in 2010.
Some of our efforts involve collecting data directly from residents, consumers, or service users. Our Survey Center will remain very busy with surveys ranging from urban areas to statewide and larger regions.
If you have an interest in any of these studies, please let us know. I can refer you to the project directors, if you don’t know who they are.
If you have an interest in any of our conferences or seminars, or if you want to join our newsletter mailing list, send an email to Marilyn, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
And, of course, explore our websites: www.wilderresearch.org and www.twincitiescompass.org
All the best for 2009!