Where data meets community: the Youth Success Data Knowledge Exchange

A group of 6 people looking at posters on a wall.

How do you turn 250 pages of research data into a useful tool for grassroots community change?  

Storefront’s answer? Create a space where neighbourhood changemakers can connect with the data in accessible ways, and connect with each other too. That’s what we did last month at the Youth Success Data Knowledge Exchange, and we learned a lot in the process.

Last month, the Storefront, in partnership with the Wellesley Institute, the Centre for Connected Communities, the Students’ Commission, and the Toronto Child & Family Network, facilitated the Youth Success Data Knowledge Exchange. The event gathered 40+ people working to support youth in Kingston Galloway/Orton Park to connect and explore local youth-focused data together. This one-day gathering brought together folks from local youth-serving organizations, schools and libraries, police, and other community groups, as well as grassroots leaders and politicians. Linking together the many different perspectives in the room was a common question: how can we work together to better support youth in KGO?  This was a question with some existing cross-community momentum behind it that we hoped to build on (see KGO ACT).
Graph. Title: Connections between sectors. Subtitle: Network of sectors in KGO, formed by referrals between organizations in each sector. Graph shows different-sized circles (representing sectors) connected by lines (representing referrals).
Grounded in community relationships, we focused our discussion that day using data from eight different local research projects about youth (see Publications- Youth-Focused Local Research). Highlighting the most interesting and relevant information from the research (identified by youth in a sensemaking session), we created eye-catching and easy-to-read “data-bytes” for participants to explore. One graph, for example, mapped referrals between different sectors and sub-sectors within the neighbourhood (see: image on the right). Another reported the top methods local youth use to get their information.

Why the focus on research data? Through our work building a connected community in Kingston Galloway/Orton Park over the last two decades, we’ve learned that sharing and mobilizing data, stories, and other useful local knowledge is one of the key roles a community backbone organization like the Storefront can play to support neighbourhood change. By sharing local knowledge with and among people and organizations in KGO through events like this one, we strengthen neighbourhood networks, building a shared understanding of where we’ve been and where we are now in order to ground our explorations of where we might go next. For example, take a look at this Emerging Ideas one-pager for a glimpse of some of the many thoughtful and inspiring ideas for the future that came out of this particular knowledge exchange.

Check out the data-bytes and download copies for yourself here: see Infographic: Youth Success Data and Infographic: KGO Community Profile. The data-bytes focus on several key themes related to strengthening supports for youth in KGO. We hope they can serve as useful tools for local changemakers going forward, so please use and share! Storefront is keeping an eye out for more opportunities to support community-building in KGO through knowledge exchanges like this one, so stay tuned for more.

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