The Aunt Bertha Blog

What the Search Data Can Tell Us about Community Needs

We live in an increasingly networked world that enables us to find information in seconds and even lets us do things that a few years ago seemed impossible. Want to know how well you slept? There is a device for that. Hate driving? Autonomous vehicles will be hitting the roads soon. Need help finding food or rental assistance in your area? Good luck. Using a typical search engine to find help produces page after page of disorganized information. Often times, the lists even include predatory programs that aren’t actually designed to help those in need.

With seekers having trouble even finding programs, it’s not surprising that nonprofits and governments have an incomplete view of their communities. Are residents accessing the services they need? Are the best programs being funded in the areas where they’re most needed? In many communities, nonprofits and governments cannot answer those questions with confidence.

At Aunt Bertha, we’re doing our part to help answer those questions by making social services information more accessible. We help seekers instantly find programs and services in their area. Each of those searches is logged in our system and helps us provide a snapshot for each community where we have listings. In some cases, the results are what we’d expect: spikes in searches for emergency shelter after a natural disaster. But, we’re also seeing more unexpected results: consistent searches for work programs in communities with dropping unemployment rates. Take Dallas/Fort Worth as an example. From January to May of this year, the unemployment rate steadily declined. But search data from those same months tells a different story.

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We know that additional analysis is needed before we can draw definitive conclusions, but this data provides a starting point for that further analysis to understand the why behind the search results.

Our data can also help governments and nonprofits evaluate simple supply and demand questions. Are we funding the programs that people need most? Again, using Dallas/Fort Worth as the example, we see a potential misalignment of service offerings and community needs. Housing and work consistently rank among the highest searched categories, but there aren’t that many programs available that provide those services. At the same time, we see the opposite with care and education related searches. We see lots of care and education programs, but relatively few searches for those services.

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While the data certainly does not indicate that we should divert funding one program in favor of another, it does help to tell a story about the community. We can drill deeper and look at specific zip codes to better understand the needs at a hyper-local level. This detailed view provides nonprofits and governments with invaluable insight. And, it’s that insight that we hope will lead to more targeted program development that is responsive to the community needs.   

Want to learn more about the needs in your community? Request a demo below, and we can schedule time to give you an overview.

Request a demo ›

 

 

Topics: reporting analytics search data community needs

Coalition for Queens: Building the New Class of Software Developers in New York City

 

Over the first weekend in August Aunt Bertha was proud to be a part of a hackathon at Coalition for Queens (c4q.nyc) demonstrating the skills students in the Access Code 2.0 program have developed over the past several months.  As mentioned on the website, Access Code equips talented adults from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds with the computer programming skills and entrepreneurial training to launch careers in the tech industry.  The cohort we worked with has been learning how to program in Android, and those skills were put to the test where teams were tasked with designing, developing, and presenting a brand new Android application in only 48 hours, using the Aunt Bertha API, as well as the optional use of APIs from FourSquare, Venmo, Twilio and SendGrid.

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We enjoyed meeting with such a diverse group of eager first-time developers to talk about what information is available on the Aunt Bertha API and watching them use the data in innovative ways.   

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Every team brought something unique to the challenge of providing those in need access to information about services in their area.  Some teams focused on collecting additional information from their users to better customize the results returned while others used the Android phones to ease communications with emergency contacts when tough times hit or ensuring communication during disasters.  

Congratulations to all the teams for such a good job!

Are you in New York City and Intereseted in learning more or getting involved with the Coalition for Queens? Reach out to them - even volunteer to teach or mentor today.

Check out C4Q!

 

Topics: robin hood great partners effective non profits new york city job training hackathon

Children with Food Insecurities in the Summer

My husband is an elementary teacher in a low-income area outside of Austin, Texas.  Every year he notices that kids start to act up in his class near the end of the year and talk about how they don’t want school to end for the summer.  He believes this change in behavior is directly connected to those kids not having a stable environment outside of school, which includes not having access to food.  During the school year, low-income children have access to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); however, many kids, parents, teachers and communities aren’t aware of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

President Harry S. Truman passed a law in 1968 that enacted the Summer Food Service Program.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for the program which makes food available to kids (under the age of 19) during the summer months.  Each individual site is implemented at the local level and any child, regardless of background, can receive a free meal.  Each location has different times and dates that they offer food.  Additionally, some of the sites may provide one meal a day, while others may provide as many as all four meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack).  The below map illustrates the number of meals served per day by location across the country:

 

SFSP

 

To find a Summer Food Service Program near you, visit Aunt Bertha and enter your zip code.

To learn more about starting a Summer Food Service Program location in your area, visit The USDA website to obtain a Summer Meals Toolkit.

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Velisia Escobar is a Senior Data Analyst who appreciates processes, order and random movie quotes (Stop looking at me swan!).