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May 1, 2024

How Data Can Make A Difference in Our Community

An Impact Story By Cristina Martinez

We have partnered with UWSA for decades and thanks to the help of the NNIP Impact Fellowship, we were able to follow the impact this partnership has had in the San Antonio community. The timely data we provide to UWSA and their impact partners informs strategic vision and grant funding.

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Decreasing social and economic disparities in
San Antonio and Bexar County

Community Information Now (CINow) supports the vision of the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County (UWSA) for a San Antonio where educational disparities by race and income disappear, families have the support they need to provide for their children, and employers eliminate gender- and race-based wage disparities. To realize this vision, UWSA’s investment strategy has been guided by four Impact Councils composed of residents, nonprofit staff, content experts, funders, academics, and government officials. The Ready Children, Successful Students, Strong Individuals and Families, and Safety Net Impact Councils prioritize issues for investment, develop strategies to address those issues, and choose key social and economic indicators to monitor population-level progress, adjusting strategies and investments over time in response to what they learn from data provided by CINow.

CINow annually updates each Impact Council’s key indicator data, disaggregating wherever possible by race/ethnicity, sex, age, and ZIP code or school district. UWSA and their impact partners use these indicators to make decisions about community strategies and investments at annual meetings. Twice since the inception of impact councils in 2016, UWSA has met with all impact council stakeholders to discuss progress on key indicators and make adjustments to big-picture strategies. These less frequent meetings are vital because they determine which issues, strategies, and neighborhoods UWSA issues request for proposals (RFPs) for. Datasheets provided by CINow are used to lead all these discussions, and UWSA and their partners bring their knowledge and experience to identify factors driving the trends in indicators such as test scores, childcare capacity, wage disparities, poverty levels, and food access.

CINow and UWSA have been partnering to use data to inform community strategies for over a decade. UWSA is supporting over sixty impact partners implementing social programs in San Antonio, TX across the four Impact Councils.

Strong Individuals and Families & Successful Students

CINow’s and UWSA’s collaborative process and their focus on data-driven decisions spurred UWSA to fund new grassroots organizations and community initiatives in San Antonio. A conversation with UWSA led to discussing newer investments in their Dual Generation and Multiply Success programs.


Dual Generation

As one example of a data-driven decision, zip code-level data provided by CINow informed UWSA’s decision to expand a successful initiative. UWSA has supported Dual Generation, a program on the Eastside, supporting individual, family, and student success by providing family coaching, professional development, and educational training opportunities for adults in a household while simultaneously providing quality childcare and out-of-school time programming for children aged 0-10 years old. Zip code-level data on poverty rates and income disparities showed an opportunity to extend access to families in other neighborhoods, resulting in UWSA’s expansion of the Dual Generation program to San Antonio’s Westside. Lillian, an alumnus of the Dual Generation, program was able to get certified as a pharmacy technician while her children participated in child care provided by the program. With UWSA’s support, Lillian and her family now have the tools they need to pursue their goals, and Lilian can support her children to be successful in school. Dual Gen helped pay for the tests, for the tuition, pay for child care, pampers, wipes, clothes, everything I needed, said Lilian, United Way provided me the opportunity to witness that all things are possible.”

Multiply Success

Multiply Success is supported through the UWSA’s Successful Student Impact Council. They provide academic resources to students of color through year-round in-school and out-of-school math-focused coaching and tutoring. This initiative was born out of Texas Education Agency data, put together and trended by CINow, which showed a large drop in math standardized test scores in 2021 for students of color (Fig. 1.). The Corporate Partners for Racial Equity, a coalition of local business leaders in San Antonio with the mission of improving racial equity in the community, reviewed the data and chose to invest in Multiply Success and their work to improve math scores for children of color.

Figure 1. Percent of students passing STAAR 8th grade math exam. Source: Texas Education Agency.

Wage Disparity

The largest wage disparity in Bexar County exists between non-Hispanic white males and both Black or African American females and Hispanic females, with a difference of about $36,000, or non-Hispanic white males making more than 1.8 these female demographic groups. The “Wage Disparity Index” [1] is a measure CINow created for UWSA’s Strong Individuals and Families Impact Council to evaluate disparities by gender and race in wages and earnings. UWSA invested in the YWCA and Family Service Association to lead two strategies to address disparities that were evident in the index.

Wage Disparity Awareness Campaign – YWCA

To address wage disparities identified by CINow’s index, YWCA developed an outreach and education program for businesses and individuals. YWCA created ads that were displayed on a local news station website and a YouTube video for this reach campaign. This awareness campaign had a reach of at least 70,000 ad and YouTube views. Additionally, approximately twenty local businesses participate in a wage disparity awareness cohort, participate in quarterly wage disparity educational events, and have made a commitment to wage parity in their industries. YWCA also provides salary negotiation classes for women so they are adequately prepared to advocate for themselves throughout their careers. These individuals and businesses come together annually at YWCA’s Wage Equity Summit where they learn new strategies to address wage disparities in San Antonio.

Education and Workforce Development – Family Service Association

Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc., (Family Service) is one of the oldest human service organizations in San Antonio, operating since 1903. They provide services to address the social determinants of health: economic stability, education, health, healthcare-mental health, neighborhood supports, and social and community engagement services. A number of their programs are part of UWSA’s Strong Individuals and Families Impact Council. These include ANGELS classroom support and substitute teacher training, the Child Development Associate Class (CDA), and their Financial Empowerment Center, which are part of the strategy to address wage disparities for women of color, specifically women of color who are also single mothers. Both the ANGELS and CDA programs are workforce education programs designed to have participants ready to enter the workforce upon completion and begin a successful career pathway in early childhood education. The CDA program provides support for participants to sit for the national CDA exam and pursue a career as a teacher. These programs began small, servicing about 20 women a year, and have grown to support up to four cohorts of 20 women a year. All participants have access to Family Service’s Financial Empowerment Center where participants receive support to address their financial health via debt reduction, credit score management, building savings, and getting connected with a bank. Family Service staff noted the high investment of the staff into their program participants which is part of what makes their programs impactful.

Wage disparity programming and support at YWCA and Family Service is, in part, made possible by CINow’s continued tracking of wage disparities in Bexar County.

Data as Tool for Success

From annual data sheets to individual impact, CINow is a trusted data source in the Bexar County community and has played a part in community impact and funding of new programs. The collaboration between CINow and UWSA has fostered trust and reliability through continued engagement around data, a point reached only through the intentional building of a relationship over time. The continued use of reliable data to inform strategies at UWSA illustrates this payoff. As one UWSA staffer noted, Data is the starting point, sometimes we don’t know where we are heading until we have the data. That can allow us to go in different directions.”

[1] “Wage Disaprity Index” is the ratio of the highest to lowest median annual full-time earnings among sex and race groups.

This story was written by Cristina Martinez at Community Information Now, drawn from documents and interviews with past and current partners and with the help of Jake Cowen and the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership Impact Fellowship.

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