Studer Community Dashboard aids in the drive toward citizen-powered change

Dashboard-web-main-artAmanda Gerow

Staff Writer

The Studer Community Institute has become a well-known name in Pensacola. It seems the name can be found everywhere that major change is happening in the area, even at UWF.

Be it the construction of Maritime Park or the proposed partnership with UWF for the Center for Entrepreneurship, Quint & Rishy Studer are making a statement as to what can be done in the community.

But how can one know what the needs are in the Pensacola community? With the assistance of the UWF Office of Economic Development and Engagement (OEDE), the Studer Community Institute has created a tool to assess those issues.

To that end, the Institute has created a Pensacola Metro Dashboard, which displays metrics of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The metrics are detailed statistics addressing the county graduation rates, crime rates, obesity rates, free and reduced-priced lunch statistics, and more.

“The Community Dashboard is a visual representation of what makes a community work,” said Dr. Richard Harper, associate vice president of the UWF Office of Economic Development and Engagement.

The UWF connection was the piece Studer Institute needed to get this project running. First the community was compared against itself, and then it was compared against other communities. With this assessment, the office was able to identify the right areas to measure and choose how to implement change.

Why does this matter to the average UWF student?

“These are the metrics that make up the quality of life in a community,” Harper said.

Chances are, someone reading this is a young adult, perhaps getting ready to graduate or a recent graduate. The future is still bright, and as a young professional, UWF graduates are ready to make the next leap into the real world. However, graduates soon discover that everyone is trying to get the same job. Before making big life decisions on where to move and find a job, it would be nice to be able to perform a quick research on labor force participation rates and other relevant data on the community. The Dashboard is a tool to help do that.

The Dashboard also encourages citizens to work towards change in the community. The words, “What gets measured gets improved,” is a profound truth stated on the dashboard site. By showing the statistics, community members have the ability to see what needs to be done to affect change.

“The best way to affect change is to eat the elephant one bite at a time,” said Shannon Nickinson, editor for the Studer Community Institute.