Center for Social Impact Collaborates With Greenwich United Way on 2020 Needs Assessment

Center for Social Impact Collaborates With Greenwich United Way on 2020 Needs Assessment

The Greenwich United Way, in partnership with Fairfield’s Center for Social Impact, conducted a study to provide a blueprint to identify and direct resources to the most pressing community needs in the town of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Every five years since 1981, the Greenwich United Way has conducted an assessment of Greenwich, Conn. to identify the town's areas with the greatest human service needs, in order to address these gaps in service for its residents. For the first time ever, Fairfield University’s Center for Social Impact was enlisted to help conduct the Greenwich United Way’s 2020 Needs Assessment, and helped produce the most comprehensive report with the most respondents participating to date, yielding data and input from all areas of Greenwich.

Conducted in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 Needs Assessment focused on Greenwich residents’ perceptions of five broadly defined areas of service needs:

  • Basic Human Needs: equality, housing, nutrition, and financial needs
  • Community Resources: planning and development, environment, service coordination, and immigration support
  • Crisis and Disaster Services: disaster preparedness, domestic abuse, violence, and crime
  • Families, Children, and Seniors: childcare, education, employment, and recreation
  • Physical and Mental Health: counseling, healthcare, and substance misuse services

More than 40 Fairfield students contributed to this assessment, and four Center for Social Impact student research fellows worked side-by-side with faculty to collect, analyze, and visualize data for the executive report and dashboard.

“By collaborating on this Needs Assessment with Fairfield University, we are able to drill down into the results and focus on data specific to individual neighborhoods in Greenwich rather than being limited to working with overly general, town-wide metrics,” said David Rabin, CEO of GUW.

Beginning in February 2020, the Social Impact team helped launch a self-administered online survey, and 725 respondents provided answers by its conclusion on March 13, 2020. Thirty-three interviews were later conducted in the summer via video conferencing to assess community members’ perspectives on local human services and the priorities, assets, and shortcomings in the area.

With their findings and publicly available census data, the Social Impact team created an interactive dashboard that visualizes the results and make its data easily accessible to all users.

The results of the 2020 Needs Assessment indicated that some of the most pressing areas of concern in the community include affordable housing, education, and mental health and wellness. While the Covid-19 pandemic altered the challenges facing Greenwich, the areas of concern reflected in the assessment are, according to the Assessment of Human Services & State of Greenwich Statistical Report Executive Summary, “in the context of a community with fiscal resources and social capital that can be brought to bear, including the Greenwich United Way.”

For director of the Center for Social Impact Melissa Quan, working in union with the Greenwich United Way on the 2020 Needs Assessment provided a real-world opportunity for students to use their skills to effect change in their local Fairfield County community — and a way for the Center to continue strengthening these community partnerships.

"The research project was a great opportunity for students and faculty to work intensively on research that would have immediate and meaningful impact for the community,” said Quan. “The Center for Social Impact is committed to working with community partners to generate and share research that can inform programs and systems that lead to positive change for communities while also building the capacity of our students to be life-long contributors to the common good.”

The complete survey results can be accessed in the Assessment of Human Services & State of Greenwich Statistical Report dashboard.

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