The Edna Martin Christian Center (EMCC) has been an anchor of the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood on the near-northeast side of Indianapolis for generations. It began in 1941 as a children’s after-school program. Now it provides a full range of services, from job training to child care.

Over the years, EMCC has adopted new tools to some familiar challenges. In 2015, for example, it incorporated data from SAVI’s Poverty Trends Report and the data on the SAVI website in a grant proposal for a crime-prevention program. It used the data to pinpoint several crime “hotspots” in the area. EMCC also used SAVI to identify several local organizations that it could partner with to combat non-violent crime, including a local university, churches, and other nonprofits.

EMCC received the grant. As a result, it established a program that helps youth explore career options in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. It also established a program that helps adults gain the credentials they need to get a job. These programs helped place 50 adults in full or part-time jobs and 30 teens in part-time jobs or internships.

“Without data, our assertions are simply anecdotal. The data provides the evidence to make the case for our interventions and promotion efforts.”

The data supplied by SAVI was critical to the proposal’s success, according to Tysha Hardy-Sellers, EMCC’s executive director. “Without data, our assertions are simply anecdotal,” she says. “The data provides the evidence to make the case for our interventions and promotion efforts.”

Beyond a solid grounding in evidence, EMCC’s application had two hallmarks of strong proposals. First, it put forward a specific solution to a well-defined problem.

“Everyone has a problem they’re trying to address,” says Kim Donahue, director of agency services for United Way of Central Indiana. “But to be able to point out exactly what the deficiencies are, and what works, and how neighborhoods are developing, adds a perspective that funders value.”

SAVI has brief histories and descriptions of communities across Central Indiana, and EMCC added depth and context to its proposal by incorporating some of that analysis.

What’s the other strategy that EMCC used to create a successful proposal? Collaboration. It identified partners that shared its goal of lowering the area’s crime rate. Such synergies are becoming critical elements of successful proposals.

“To have a resource like this devoted to Central Indiana is incredibly valuable. That’s what I’ve always loved about SAVI. It’s local, it’s really unique, and it’s such a valuable resource. That’s why I’d like to see more people using it.”

“Funders want to see more collective impact,” says Tammie Barney, executive director of TeenWorks, a youth- employment program in Indianapolis. “And they want to see that we’re working together. Because in a lot of cases, we may be serving the same individuals, but not in the same way. So they want to see that we’re talking to each other.”

And there’s a bonus insight from EMCC’s experience: You don’t have to be an expert in SAVI to reap big benefits from it. Hardy-Sellers said that SAVI is her “go-to source for statistical information,” but she hasn’t yet taken a SAVI class. She and her team plan to enroll in one soon, though, so they can “use it to its fullest.”

But you can get started anytime by using the online training tool, and then “just start looking around in there,” Donahue says. “To have a resource like this devoted to Central Indiana is incredibly valuable. That’s what I’ve always loved about SAVI. It’s local, it’s really unique, and it’s such a valuable resource. That’s why I’d like to see more people using it.”

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