Survey results released today show that a majority of survey respondents, both residents and elected officials of Kent County, Michigan, support sharing services such as police, fire and public works among governments, but there is no majority for sharing assessment of property values or tax collection. Majorities support informal cooperation, formal contracts and combining agencies, but a supermajority of responding elected officials and a near-majority of responding residents oppose merging governments into larger units.
Not long before he passed away in 2010, then-director of CSR Dr. Jim Penning was inspired and agitated by an article in the Grand Rapids
This morning, I had the privilege of bringing Jim’s work to fruition by pinch-hitting for CRI staff in presenting recent survey results to the board of the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council. GVMC is an august gathering of mayors and other local officials from Kent County and several other West Michigan counties. An important vehicle for cooperation among local governments, GVMC co-sponsored the survey project, with grant funding from the Frey Foundation. GVMC provided a list of elected officials for a mail survey parallel to GGRCS. Today’s presentation juxtaposed these two surveys to compare the opinions of residents and elected officials. The event was covered by Calvin grad Matt Vande Bunte of the Grand Rapids
Here are two key charts from the end of the presentation that summarize the findings.
Janel Curry is the newly-appointed Provost of Gordon College and conducted this research in her role as the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Christian Perspectives on Political, Social and Economic Thought. Scott Rodin is currently partner for strategic alliances at Artios Partners. At the time of writing, both Curry and Rodin were associated with the not-for-profit practice of the One Accord consulting group.
As summarized in the article abstract, “Our research suggests that macroeconomic conditions, the number of development staff, and the size of development budget do not predict [fundraising] performance. Performance is related to a transformational approach to development work built on a compelling vision that is communicated clearly.”
CSR’s ongoing, long-term work with the Believe 2 Become Initiative is beginning to bear fruit. A collaborative article, for which I served as the lead author, has just been published in The Foundation Review, “the nation’s first peer-reviewed journal of philanthropy”:
The article documents the coalition’s successful efforts to come to agreement on the complex issue of sharing student data in a secure, responsible fashion to support better personal service to students by program staff, greater alignment of out-of-school educational services with in-school curriculum, and more robust evaluation of overall program results in improving educational outcomes. The agreement facilitates transmission of data between the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) and the Community Research Institute (CRI) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU).
With parental consent, identified student information such as attendance and recent academic performance is (or will be) available on a secure, need-to-know basis for staff at B2B out-of-school programs through nFocus Solutions’ TraxSolutions suite. Meanwhile deidentified data for larger populations of B2B participants and comparison groups is available to the research and evaluation team (including CSR, CRI and Basis Policy Research) .
While similar agreements have been made in other cities and school districts, they have generally been short term, less comprehensive, or have dealt only with aggregate data rather than tracking individual educational results over time. At CSR, we are privileged to be involved and excited about the potential this data-sharing infrastructure offers to Grand Rapids and to other metropolitan partnerships. As we learned at a recent Intelligence for Social Policy conference, interest and investment in data sharing agreements is soaring across the country. Grand Rapids is keeping pace and may even be moving ahead of the pack.
The Social Sciences Lunch Seminar Series resumes for the spring semester 2012, highlighting four faculty speakers who will present and discuss their research.
Friday February 17: Jennifer Jewett VanAntwerp, Associate Professor of Engineering: "Examining Calling as a Motivator in Career Decisions: A Comparison of Engineering Graduates from Secular and Christian Undergraduate Institutions"
Friday March 9: Mikael Pelz, Assistant Professor of Political Science: "Presidential Campaign Rhetoric and Partisan Change: The Case of Evangelical Protestants"
Friday April 13: Neil Carlson, Director, Center for Social Research: "Social Science on the Front Lines: Collecting, analyzing and visualizing survey and casework data from the Believe 2 Become Initiatives's Neighborhood Engagement efforts"
Friday April 27: Adel Abadeer, Professor of Economics: "How Informal Norms Marginalize Women in Collective Societies in Less Developed Countries"
All of the 2011-12 seminars take place at Calvin College, in the Alumni Association Board Room, 12:30 p.m. with lunch tickets free and available starting at 12:15 p.m.
Please join us for lunch, research, and discussion.
Sponsored by the Center for Social Research, the Dean for Social Sciences and Contextual Studies, and the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Christian Perspectives on Political, Social and Economic Thought.
The Board of Trustees has just confirmed the appointment of Neil Carlson as the director of the Center for Social Research. Formerly the centerís assistant director, Neil stepped into the director role unofficially last year when Jim Penning passed away. The governing board was pleased to appoint Neil to that position officially after an extensive review of the centerís administrative structure resulted in a redefined director position.
Please join us in congratulating Neil and thanking him for his continuing contributions to the Center for Social Research and the college.