by: Jessica Kadish, The Morten Group
Morten Group has been hard at work this fall on an exciting new project: “The LGBT Community Needs Assessment.” Commissioned by The LGBT Community Fund of The Chicago Community Trust, the project seeks to assess the needs and strengths of Chicagoland’s LGBT community, in order to effectively inform fundraising campaigns and allocate the Fund’s grant-making resources strategically and effectively. The Needs Assessment kicked off with a press briefing at the Center on Halsted on October 7, and data collection will continue through December 16.
The Chicago Community Trust began The LGBT Community Fund in 2010 with a $500,000 matching challenge grant. The Steering Committee of the Fund will oversee a fundraising campaign that plans to raise $1 million over the next three years to match the Trust’s challenge grant. The Steering Committee will distribute the $1 million over the same time period to nonprofits serving Chicagoland’s LGBT community; the Trust’s $500,000 will go towards a permanent endowment benefiting the LGBT community.
In an effort to cast a wide net over the Chicagoland area, the Needs Assessment employs four methods of data gathering. The first is an online survey, available in both English and Spanish, that asks a comprehensive set of questions about the survey taker’s life, experiences and opinions as a member of the LGBT community. The second method is the data card – a brief paper version of the survey – which allows individuals without the time or internet access to fill out the online version to voice their opinions on the community’s strongest needs.
Community drop boxes have been set up at various offices and special events around the city for data card collection, in locations ranging from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Rainbow Room to the Reeling Film Festival to dozens of community service organizations on the North, South and West Sides. Data cards are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Hindi and Vietnamese.
As the third strategy for data collection, fifteen focus groups are being held during November and December, across the city and suburbs. These in-depth conversations encourage community members to confidentially discuss questions based on themes that have emerged from the online survey and data cards. Locations so far have included Howard Brown Health Center, Links North Shore Youth Health Service, and Gerber/Hart Library and Archives.
The fourth and final method used to gather data is the interview. Individual interviews are conducted via telephone with key stakeholders in the LGBT community. By employing all four methods of data collection in conjunction with one another, Morten Group hopes to reach as many members of the Chicagoland LGBT community as possible.
The ability of the Needs Assessment to reach thousands of individuals of diverse ages, geographic locations, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds is also made possible by the collaboration of Community Partners and Community Leaders. Nearly 50 organizations and individuals serve as Community Partners and Leaders. They publicize the survey, host focus groups and drop boxes, and generally ensure that as many community members as possible are able to partake in the Needs Assessment.
Mary Morten, President of Morten Group, oversees the Needs Assessment in its entirety. Consulting Associate Keisha Farmer-Smith, PhD, serves as the Project Manager, and Jessica Kadish serves as the Project Coordinator. Focus groups are facilitated and phone interviews are conducted by a diverse team of consultants, educators and youth workers from around Chicago: Tony Alvarado-Rivera, Simon Aronoff, Cece Lobin, Ryan Meher, Mairita Smiltars, Christina Smith, and Alicia Vega.
After data collection concludes on December 16, the project team will analyze the data and present the findings to The Steering Committee of The LGBT Community Fund. In early 2012, the findings will be made public.
To take the survey, please visit: http://mortengroup.com/lgbtneedsassessment.
Click either “survey” or “survey en español” on the left side of the page. For more information, please contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org.