A Funder Perspective: The Wake County Youth Well-being Profile

By:  Kate Shirah, Program Director for the John Rex Endowment, Youth Thrive Co-Founder and Board Member

Youth Thrive is just around the corner from releasing the first-ever Wake County Youth Well-being Profile on February 6. As one of the co-founders and current board member of the Youth Thrive community collaboration, it is easy to get excited about this resource for our young people and community. But, today, I am sharing why we here at the John Rex Endowment are enthusiastic about the Profile.

As a local funder working to support an environment where children and families live healthy lives, the John Rex Endowment can only be impactful toward our mission when we have a clear understanding of how children are thriving (or not) and whether the appropriate supports and opportunities are available (or not). We see the Profile as bigger than making data available – it’s about creating an opportunity for all of us to delve into the stories beneath the data, to understand the causes and consequences of both what we as a community are doing well and where we must do better if ALL of our young people are to succeed.

Most everyone has heard the catch phrase “data-driven decision making”. Hearing it, committing to it, and operationalizing it is complex for single organizations. For collaborations that cross public and private institutions, diverse individuals and organizations, traditional youth-serving agencies and informal mentoring and support services, it is an immense challenge. Yet, on a community level, making decisions based on data can help us determine where there is imbalance in the allocation of resources. It primes the conversation about who and what are influencers in how resources are mobilized to more effectively address the needs of young people. In essence, data can help us be more collectively strategic.

Good data is also the platform for solid operational thinking. The travel itinerary, for example, is quite different if you are planning a day-trip to Brevard depending on whether you are leaving from Raleigh or from Charlotte. Examining where we are against where we want to be can help us decide on the tactics that will move us forward as a community.

With the upcoming launch of the Wake County Youth Wellbeing Profile, Youth Thrive will have provided the community with a solid foundation for a rich dialogue, enabling a process that is strongly grounded in data. The Wake County Youth Wellbeing Profile sets the stage for a community-developed and community-implemented plan for ensuring that all Wake County young people are indeed thriving. And, the John Rex Endowment wants to be at that table. We hope that you will be there with us and all of the many individuals and organizations who have also made this commitment with their engagement and partnership through Youth Thrive.

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