Any smart nonprofit looking to better understand and maximize their impact collects data relevant to their mission and work.
But not all smart nonprofits have the capacity to whip that raw data up into something digestible.
That’s why the folks over at Callowhill-based mapping firm Azavea have been offering their data analysis and GIS mapping services to select nonprofits every summer for the past five years, free of charge.
It’s Summer of Maps time, and the livin’ is easy. Well, at least it will be for the six projects that get the green light. It will probably just be a regular summer for the others.
Last year, 170 college students studying GIS pplied to be a fellow for the 12-week program, which matches them with accepted organizational projects. Delaware Valley Assocation for the Education of Young Children was one of the projects Summer of Maps Fellows worked on in 2013. That project was a map visualizing the quality of Philly’s pre-school programming, and it landed them $1 million in grants.
Now that we’ve got your attention, interested nonprofits should heed these two tidbits about the application process:
- Polish it up. Nonprofits should come to the table with clean, updated and accurate data (ideally in spatial or tabular data format). Summer of Maps isn’t in the business of scrubbing the filth and grime off your data.
- Propose a project. The data doesn’t need to be extensive or particularly robust because projects will be supplemented with public data. Still, applicants should know what they want based on what they do have, the analysis they want, the visuals they’re interested in securing and how the final product will help advance their mission.
(By the way, Azavea put a comprehensive guide together for applicants available for download here.)
“An ideal project should propose challenging, interesting data analysis questions and have a clear set of requested deliverables that will support the nonprofit’s mission,” said Azavea Project Manager Sarah Cordivano. “Proposed projects that include data digitization or software development are outside the scope of the program.”
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A few quick examples of what a solid project proposal might look like, per Azavea:
- An organization with a public safety-oriented mission might propose a project that identifies where the city should install bike lanes, including the relevant data that would make that project possible.
- An organization with a sustainability-based mission might propose a project that offers recommendations for preservation by analyzing the urban tree canopy and existing development.
Remember: Students will be choosing which projects they want to work on and will most likely engage with proposals that present some level of intrigue. The deadline for applications is Feb. 7.