Supporting the #DegreesNYC Data Co-op and Learning Network

About the Data Co-op

Nonprofit community-based organizations focused on promoting college and career success are an increasingly prominent part of New York City’s education landscape. These organizations provide under-resourced students with crucial support, including career exploration, college counseling, application assistance, test preparation, financial aid guidance, tutoring, internships, work-based learning, and social and emotional support. While CBOs often have deep knowledge of their students’ lives, barriers they face, and strategies to overcome those barriers, many organizations find it challenging to access and use data collected about their students by other institutions, including schools. Conversely, researchers often depend on large-scale administrative data sets, but lack access to the kind of detailed, contextual data that CBOs frequently collect. Historically, there have been few opportunities to share data and expertise across organizations and institutions, which has limited our understanding of the most important levers of college access and success.

To address these issues, the Research Alliance is partnering with #DegreesNYC to launch the #DegreesNYC Data Co-op and Learning Network. This innovative project will link data from participating CBOs with data from the NYC Department of Education and the City University of New York. The project will also work to identify key indicators of being on track for success in postsecondary education and career pathways, and empirically test the relationship between those indicators and student outcomes. CBOs will use the resulting information to improve their practices and to engage policymakers and others in data-driven conversations about how all NYC students can be academically successful and college and career ready. Six CBOs will be selected to participate in the Co-op’s first year, with the intention of expanding the project and including additional organizations over time.

About Our Role

The Research Alliance is leveraging our existing data archive to create a new database that—for the first time—links information from participating Data Co-op CBOs with data from the NYC DOE, CUNY, the National Student Clearinghouse, and the U.S. Census Bureau. We will use this database to conduct preliminary analyses and provide participating organizations with aggregate reports about the students in their program.

Our team will also collaborate with the CBOs, as well as the #DegreesNYC Data Working Group, to identify and build consensus around a set of key indicators that young people are on track for post-secondary success. We expect to include indicators related to students’ college application process; financial readiness; academic readiness; and social and emotional readiness. We will produce baseline data visualizations of these key indicators and how they vary for different groups of students across the City, and begin to test the relationship between the indicators and students’ eventual outcomes.

Finally, we will facilitate a series of learning group sessions for participating CBOs, held throughout the year. These sessions will unearth challenges and help organizations build their capacity to collect and use data to inform their programs. The Research Alliance team will also provide CBOs with targeted feedback and guidance about how to define measures and how to collect and interpret data.
Our hope is that lessons learned during the Data Co-op’s initial pilot will inform the continued development and expansion of the approach, and help nurture more effective college-focused programs and initiatives throughout the City.

This project is being supported by grants to the Goddard Riverside Center from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Altman Foundation.