Christ Missionary Baptist Church and Unite for Change organized the Urban Servant Leadership Un-Conference in August 2017, and SAVI was there to train participants how to use the SAVI Community Assessment Tool. The tool, launched in early 2017, makes it easier than ever to perform the community needs assessment process.

Assessing your community’s needs and assets is an important first step in planning community improvements. In fact, users report “community assessments” as the number one use of the SAVI community information system, helping them make more informed decisions about program priorities and identifying existing community resources.

In the Community Assessment Tool, users walk through a basic community assessment framework, which provides data to support each step: assess needs, identify assets, and define gaps and opportunities. It allows you to define a custom geographic area, view dashboards, and drill into interactive data visualizations. The data format makes it easy for nonprofits to understand needs, socio-economic and geographic disparities, existing programming, and gaps in their service area.

The greatest innovation is that it generates a custom and updatable report containing the assessment data and visualizations for a chosen geography in Central Indiana in an editable MS Word format. You can then continue customizing it with your own data and narrative.

Trainees walked through the tool step-by-step, learning to define the geographic scope of their assessment area, understand the needs of that community, and discover some of the existing assets. Just as important, this training provided an opportunity for participants to dig deeper and ask critical questions about the data. Now participants have a deeper understanding of where these community-level data come from, what the best use of the data is, and what the limitations are.

Un-Conference participants, from community development professionals to neighborhood leaders, are now equipped with the information to better understand and advocate for their community.

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