University of Michigan—Dearborn


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What People Are Saying

"The project has encouraged some of us to consider pursuing degrees such as public policy that deal with non-profits and community outreach."

Ford Community Corps Member, University of Michigan—Dearborn

"Working with groups like Alternatives for Girls, Focus: HOPE, and Southwest Solutions has been a unique learning experience and opportunity for all of us."

Ford Community Corps Member, University of Michigan—Dearborn

"Students are unanimous in their agreement that this project has truly strengthened their interest in long-term involvement within the non-profit sector."

Ford Community Corps Member, University of Michigan—Dearborn

"This opportunity presents a unique experience to students who otherwise would not be exposed to more long-term challenges that non-profits face and allows them to hone their innovative and fresh perspectives in a way that provides a meaningful impact to the community."

Ford Community Corps Member, University of Michigan—Dearborn

Building Capacity for Local Non-Profits



The Program

In 2013, the University of Michigan—Dearborn Ford Community Corps team worked on the Ford Sustainable Communities Needs Analysis Project to develop a database that will provide dashboard-ready resources and summary information for small, medium, and larger non-profit organizations.

The program seeks to develop a deeper understanding and affinity for non-profit work among participating students. To that end, the students in the program evaluated local non-profits with the intent of assisting with effective performance measurement, operations and increasing the impact of the non-profit. Students were challenged to master skills of data collection, observation and evaluation, project management and research, while also building their capacity in marketing, communications and web design.

This database will be populated by student researchers usingthat is available to, and can be shared by the non-profits. The dashboard tools will quickly and efficiently compile conversational data points to assist non-profits in promoting and evaluating their programming and impact.

Program Scope

  • 8 Students
  • 2,000 Volunteer Hours
  • 7 Projects
  • 7 Communities Served

Early in this project, student researchers and faculty conducted in-depth, one-on-one interviews with 15 non-profit organizations. They collected data relevant to the non-profit’s mission and scope to illuminate the organization's impact.They found that organizations were seeking ways to access, maintain, and utilize data to describe, evaluate, and compare performance and year-over-year trends.

Students have contributed 2,000+ volunteer hours since June 2012.

Team members evaluated existing non-profit business intelligence systems to identify gaps in the available tools and to understand the metrics applicable to non-profits. To assist with this process and to further learning, students met with partner organizations, including Cultural Data Project, Ardent Cause, Data Driven Detroit, and Wayne State University. Students contributed more than 2,000 volunteer service hours since June 2012.

What's Next?

The team is currently building the structure of the database and preparing a pilot dashboard tool. The student researchers will be contacting small and mid-size non-profits to confirm that the data is easily retrievable from most organizations. Faculty and student researchers are also identifying metrics and potential data sources that will be easy to collect, manage, and update while remaining applicable to non-profit work.