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January 15, 2005

Using Technology to Address and Overcome Cleveland's #1 Poverty Standing

Over the past several months, I have written a series of editorials in my blog on Povery Alleviation and the OneCleveland agenda.

This week, Case's Mandel School of Social Sciences'effort in harnessing technology to understand poverty better and help policy makers and not-for-profits battle its effects is highlighted in a terrific case study posted by SAS.

SAS, based in Cary, North Carolina is the world's largest private software company. But SAS is more than just "code". Last week I had a chance to visit the corporate campus with President Jerry Sue Thorton of the Cuyahoga Community College and a number of K-16 leaders in the State of Ohio. Leading by example, SAS co-founder and CEO, Dr. Jim Goodnight is known around the world for the company's values-driven philosophy of balancing life and work. Less well known is Goodnight's commitment to addressing community priorities in Cary and Raleigh. Goodnight has helped to build a model school called the Cary Academy reflecting the makeup of the broader community. Cary Academy makes extensive use of the SASinSchool technology-enriched multi-media curriculum developed by John Boling. Under the new leadership of Mark Milliron, former President of the League of Innovation and newly recruited to lead SAS's education practice, look to SAS to role out a portfolio of integrated product and services, including tools, analytical suites, assessment methodologies and SASinSchool curriculum. I think SAS has a significant role to play in the broad agenda of shaping our understanding of the emerging digital city and more specifically in the area of social policy in education and poverty alleviation.

At Case, Drs. Claudia Coulton and Sharon Milligan co-direct The Center on Urban Poverty and Social Change. The Center's mission is to link Case Western Reserve University's strengths in social policy and social welfare-related research, analysis, and data management with community-based organizations and groups addressing aspects of urban poverty. One of the many activities of the Center is the Cleveland Area Network for Data and Organizing (CAN DO). CANDO is a database that collects and makes easily available detailed, neighborhood-based information, such as trends in population, mortgage lending, housing stock and crime, among others, on Northeast Ohio communities.

In the newly announced enhanced relationship with SAS, The Center is now using a new release of SAS products to help map many layers of socio-economic data across the Greater Cleveland Area. In addition to mapping the data, the Center is using SAS analytical tools to allow both Center staff, graduate students, and the community at large access the data in real time. Over time, I think it is fair to say that Coulton and Milligan hope to engage the community itself in gathering key information on the quality and condition of their neighborhoods and then help community leaders and heads of household analyze their own realities to better articulate their needs.

Another useful aspect of the new SAS project is the ability to document not just the problems – high tax delinquencies or high crime rates – but also to report on neighborhood assets, such as the availability of after-school programs, libraries and employment training centers.

As we begin to understand the emerging digital city it is vital that we remember that our generation will be remembered not only by the amazing never before seen breakthroughs we are witness to but also on the extent to which we leverage these amazingly powerful technology tools to address and overcome the culture of poverty and hopelessness.

Posted by lsg8 at January 15, 2005 01:10 PM and tagged Bytes 

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