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Milwaukee County Poverty in 2012 by Census tract

My name is Jeff Zongolowicz and I am currently a senior at Marquette University and will be graduating in May with degrees in Social Welfare and Justice and Economics.  Over the past few months I have had the great experience of interning for the IMPACT Planning Council.  I decided to intern at IMPACT Planning Council after a professor of mine told me about the opportunity; I realized that it would be a great opportunity to be able to apply both my economics and social welfare and justice backgrounds to real world issues.

During my internship, I have gained valuable experience in data collection and analysis, mapping, focus groups, and some technical writing.  I worked extensively with Census data for the Milwaukee area and compiled data sets that will be useful for a wide variety of projects in the future. The data has been especially useful in creating maps (such as the one displayed here) of Milwaukee that provide valuable insight into the areas of the city where resources should be invested.   The census data I analyzed is being used for several projects already:

  • Evaluation of the Summer Reading project
  • Analysis of demand surrounding several commercial corridors
  • Sharing data with a funder who is looking to see geographically whether their grants are effecting the lower income areas in the city of Milwaukee

One project I have worked extensively on is with LISC, and preparing demographic data surrounding several commercial corridors in Milwaukee. The goal of the LISC Corridor project is to support economic growth in several corridors around Milwaukee.  The project has been interesting because the corridors have a wide variety of economic characteristics. Some are located in high income areas and others in low income areas. They vary greatly in their size and number of businesses.  The differences create a range of unique challenges that each corridor must overcome to achieve economic growth and sustainability.

My main contribution to the Corridor project has been a market analysis for several Business Improvement Districts (BIDS)  and business corridors around Milwaukee.  We combined data from the American Community Survey and Census to calculate the demand for goods and services in each neighborhood surrounding the commercial corridors, as well as the supply of those goods and services in each BID and corridor. After that data was calculated a supply-demand gap analysis was done to determine which types of new businesses each BID has the capacity to support.

In addition to working with large pools of data, I also had the opportunity to collect information directly from people by being able attend a focus group as a note taker. This allowed me to add variety to the role I have had as an intern and also gave me the opportunity to work with some qualitative data in addition quantitative data that has been my focus.  The focus group was conducted for Children’s Hospital which focuses on health in Milwaukee Public schools.  The experience allowed me to better understand the value of qualitative data.  Without the qualitative data gained from these focus groups it becomes easy to misinterpret the quantitative data.  Often times outliers in quantitative data can be easily attributed to something found in the qualitative data, however, if the qualitative data isn’t available the outliers can be wrongly attributed to incorrect causes.

As a whole my internship experience at IMPACT has been valuable in developing my skills and giving me insight into the type of work I would like to do following graduation.  Through my internship here I have become interested in the field of evaluation and come to appreciate its value in promoting efficient and valuable outcomes in communities. I have especially enjoyed the variety of work I have been able to do which has allowed me to gain a feel for the unique range of challenges in the evaluation field.

As my time at IMPACT comes to an end I am excited to continue pursuing a future in the evaluation industry and I expect my experiences here at IMPACT will prove valuable going forward.  I hope to be able to continue to work with communities in the future to be able to promote outcomes that are beneficial to the long-term future of everyone involved.

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