How We Use Data
FII uses data and data-tracking for several purposes:
- Evidence: Data collected by families enrolled in FII’s Demonstrations show the progress families are making so we can see what works (and what doesn’t). Our work with low-income families is about realizing human potential, but we often have to “sell” it as primarily economic potential—thus the quantitative measures presented below.
- Self-Help Tool: Data is shared with families through their account in our data-tracking system, allowing them to monitor their progress over time. Data is as important for the families as it is for FII.
- Consumer Feedback: FII’s data-tracking system contains a five-star rating structure for families to rate the programs and services they use. This structure provides low-income consumers with a way to offer direct feedback to funders and service providers.
FII’s Data System
Our unique data-tracking system is both a subject-centered model for data collection and a tool for change. The families enrolled in our Demonstrations are responsible for collecting their own progress data. Instead of paying staff to collect and track data every month, FII pays the families.
At the outset of the project, families receive a computer to access FII’s online data-tracking system. Every month participants input their activities from the prior month. People track their activities in six different areas: health/wellness, income/savings, education/skills, housing/environment, networking/helping others, and resourcefulness/leadership. We collect up to 230 unique data points.
These records are audited every three months by an FII Family Liaison, who verifies documentation—like pay stubs and report cards—for each family’s progress. FII families are compensated for their time and effort, and those who report and make regular progress are also eligible for additional benefits.
As a result, we have a rich database that evidences families leading their own change. Moreover, participants use the data-tracking system to monitor their own progress and to see how they are doing over time and in the context of their group.
The significant outcomes from every FII Demonstration evidence the great potential for large-scale community impact. The impressive ripple effect from the first wave of FII families has multiplied the impact, as hundreds of families are now involved in Boston and San Francisco.
At the end of the first two years, among the initial 344 individuals in 86 households in the Oahu, Oakland, and San Francisco Demonstrations, results showed:
- Increase in earnings: 23% (excluding FII payments)
- Increase in savings: 240%
- Homeownership: 17% bought homes
- Businesses: 33% new or expanded businesses
Other outcomes include: catalyzing local leaders, families leaving welfare, and increased civic engagement. Follow-up surveys show that this trajectory of progress continues after families complete the two-year commitment.
Sample outcomes for the current San Francisco Demonstration: (310 adults/children in 65 households):
- Over 70% of children improved their grades
- 30% of the families have side businesses to cope with recession
- 25% of families on subsidies have dropped CalWorks/Section 8.
Sample outcomes from the first twelve months for current Boston Demonstration (152 adults/children in 35 households):
- 13% increase in average household income (excluding FII payments)
- 22% increase in average savings
- 25% of the 70 children in school improved their grades
- 20% improved their attendance.
The families are pursuing a range of initiatives to move forward and are focused on quality of life issues like more time with their kids and for themselves, building relationships, and better access to food, self care, health, and education.