The Community Prosperity Hub: using open data to craft a narrative around local housing issues and initiatives

Screen capture of Hub main page

As part of the Nonprofit Data Collaboration project, we have been working with the City of Fredericton to create a Community Prosperity Hub. The Community Prosperity Hub is built on the city’s open data portal. The creation of the hub serves multiple purposes. In the short-term, within the context of the project’s applied research, the hub acts as a probe/catalyst for conversation and reflection on the role of data for NPOs and demonstrates what questions can/can’t be answered with various types and granularity of data. This allows the hub to act as a platform for experimentation and learning. In the long-term, the hub may be positioned to act as a data sharing resource for the broader community.

We have structured the Community Prosperity Hub around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The overall intent and subsequent information architecture for each goals’ space within the hub is to:

  • Define the problem(s) being addressed;
  • Illustrate how that problem presents itself in our city; 
  • Highlight the work of local nonprofits whose work may advance our progress towards the goal, and 
  • Provide access to relevant indicators and resources.

Most recently, we have been working on the Sustainable Cities and Communities Hub, based on the 11th SDG, which is to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. When we began designing the Sustainable Cities and Communities Hub, we instantly struggled with using data to represent Fredericton’s complex housing landscape. Numbers and percentages, while invaluable in many contexts, do not adequately reflect lived realities.

Screen capture of core housing need data

For example, data shows that in 2021, the average renter in Fredericton was spending no more than 27.52% of their income on housing. This fact alone could make it appear as though affordable housing is not a major concern in the city. However, other data tells us that 12.6% of Fredericton households surveyed report being in core housing need and 93% of these households are experiencing core housing need because they cannot meet the affordability standards

  • A household is considered to be in core housing need if it meets 2 criteria:
    • It is below one or more of the adequacy, suitability, and affordability standards
    • The household would have to spend 30% or more of its before-tax household income to access local housing that meets all three standards”

If we presented Fredericton’s averages as a reflection of the entire city, a significant portion of our population would be unrepresented. We decided to take a more narrative-based approach in this hub’s design to ensure that there weren’t any parts of this story left behind.

Screen capture of Sustainable Cities and Communities Hub

Our goal for the hub’s main page was to provide a snapshot of Fredericton’s current housing situation. To do this, we first contextualized the problem by providing some basic facts and statistics about core housing need. This section presents affordability as the overarching problem in Fredericton. To expand on the issue of affordability, we explained the housing continuum and grouped its stages into four different categories. Each category is broken down further and includes definitions, as well as a list of organizations in the Fredericton area that offer the services under discussion. 

We are attempting to provide as clear an overview of Fredericton’s core housing need as possible, however many areas of ambiguity remain. Some of the data on this issue is outdated and does not reflect the significant changes that occurred within the housing sector with the onset of the pandemic. Other data sources are incomplete and recorded inconsistently across organizations. While the number of households surveyed by Stats Can represents 96% of households in Fredericton, we know that segments of the population, such as individuals experiencing homelessness and numerous minority groups, are often completely left out of the data collection process. Additionally, we have an incomplete list of the various affordable housing spaces that are offered as some of this data is unavailable to the public. Despite these challenges, we did our best to illustrate this complex issue with the data and resources that were available. 

In addition to illustrating the problem, we sought to highlight organizations in our community and contextualize the necessity of their work. In doing so we hope to promote awareness, and inter and cross-sector communication and collaboration. 

Local Action, Global Goals: Creating a Data-Driven Argument to Fund a Food Security Satellite Program

Introducing Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels has been serving the community for 53 years. They provide nutritious meals and social support to seniors, individuals with disabilities, and those recovering from illness, surgery or injury; assisting a healthy and independent lifestyle. 

In late 2020, the team expanded their reach by establishing a satellite hub in the community of Harvey. As of January 18th 2021, 50 flash frozen meals per week have been picked up by Harvey and provided to 10 households in need in that community. The further development of the food security satellite program would ensure the sustainability and expansion of rural outreach by Meals on Wheels, which has the infrastructure for large scale meal preparation and distribution, and a Registered Dietician on staff.


Driven by the knowledge of the positive impact on people’s lives, and encouraged by the positive response from the Harvey Community, the team were keen to expand their pilot to additional communities.  But as the spring call for funding proposals were announced, the team were overstretched and did not have the capacity to write a funding application.

The primary challenge Meals on Wheels has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic has been internal capacity. There are simply not enough financial or administrative resources to implement all of the programs that the Fredericton branch has the infrastructure for. Inspired by the testimonials that the Meals on Wheels team had shared, the research team offered to help write an application to expand the satellite program to two additional rural communities.


Our research team scoped the funding application during a one hour workshop session with the Executive Director of Meals on Wheels and proceeded to write the grant application after the scoping session. We aligned the project with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and integrated open source demographic data about the impacted rural communities that the food security rural satellite program would impact, as well as local data on food security and the impacts of social isolation in seniors to tell the story of why this program is needed and to tell the story concisely with the open data that is readily available. 

The development of a food security satellite program to address food insecurity in rural communities aligns with UN SDG target 2.1, “By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.”.

There are a total of 6,564 seniors living in these rural communities surrounding Fredericton, 30% of whom are at risk becoming socially isolated according to the Ministers Responsible for Seniors (Healthy Aging Core). This means that there are approximately 2,200 seniors in the area who could benefit from the services of Meals on Wheels if a satellite program such as the one described in this application could be established and scaled.

Data Use

Open data was used to enhance the story and understand the given problem that Meals on Wheels was addressing. By integrating concrete numbers and details about who the rural satellite program would reach, the application was better able to establish the presence of disparities for food security and social isolation within the identified rural communities and advocate for change through the development of Meals on Wheels satellite programs. 


Meals On Wheels was able to receive full funding for the development of this outreach program, and stated that “Working with the Data Collaboration team and being a part of the Community Prosperity Hub has helped our organization better understand how we can use data to plan and measure our success. The Hub was very helpful in assisting us with a successful grant application securing funds for a project we feel is very important.”

Welcome to the NPO Data Collaboration Blog!

Welcome to the Non-Profit Data Collaboration Blog, the blog and announcement space for the NPO Data Collaboration Project, which aims to support non-profits in the Greater Fredericton area to:

  • Leverage data/information more effectively, and 
  • Promote the inclusion of non-profit data in public policy.  

The three year project is a collaboration between Greater Fredericton Social Innovation (GFSI), New Brunswick Community College’s Department of Applied Research and Innovation, and the City of Fredericton. We have also partnered with two cohorts of local non-profits:

In this blog we will be sharing project updates, success stories, and lessons learned as we explore opportunities to help build non-profits’ internal data capacity, leverage open data, and work towards non-profit data collaboration.

We encourage you to visit the GFSI website to learn more about the project, as well as checking out the NPO Data Collaboration Toolkit which we are building to house resources for Non-Profits and partners who are interested in building their own capacity. And, do feel free to contact us for more information! Please consider subscribing and engaging in discussion around the issue of data use and data collaboration within the non-profit sector. We’d also love to hear from you what you are interested in reading about!

Thanks for reading.


The NPO Data Collaboration Team

The Importance of Data Standards for Increased Community Impact

Funding bodies such as the Fredericton Community Foundation and United Way of Central New Brunswick are faced with the unenviable challenge of determining which social programs to support each year. There are multiple factors to consider, including the needs of the community and the efficacy of existing programs. This community impact and program measurement would be much easier to report on if the multiple organisations responsible for delivering these programs collected and reported on the  community members being served and issues being addressed in a consistent manner. 

Data standardization allows funding bodies to expand their impact to reach the right people and right places through evidence based analysis of community needs. This would enable both the Fredericton Community Foundation and United Way of Central NB to understand more comprehensively how their funding moves the needle in our community for different social issues, as well as recruit donors and funding for issues that are most pressing in our community. Standardizing the data requirements not only improves our funding organizations’ ability to report on community impact, but alleviates the burden of multiple reporting requirements for non-profits, making them better funders overall. 

The Research on Data Standardization 

Data standardization becomes increasingly important when capturing the disparities within services. A systematic analysis requires clearly defined methods for measurement and collection in order to adequately report on disparities and methods of addressing these gaps in services (Thorlby et al., 2011). This is because differing measurements or lack of reporting leaves space for guessing and assumptions, which results in unclear impact measurement (Thorlby et al., 2011).

Data standards are a key takeaway from the research of the NPO Data Collaboration project, highlighting the essential accountability of funding bodies and policy makers to establish purpose and reason for data collection and analysis. However, with standardization, nonprofits still require autonomy to remain in control of their service delivery and community impact (Thorlby et al., 2011). 

Sparking Data Standardization in Community 

The two largest funding bodies in our region, the Fredericton Community Foundation and the United Way of Central NB, have had open discussions with the NPO Data Collaboration Team on standardizing their reporting requirements of their funding applications. 

The process of standardizing data requirements is something that the Fredericton Community Foundation had always dreamed of doing. Discussions with the Non-Profit Data Collaboration project, in tandem with federal COVID-19 community support funding, were the tipping point for putting those dreams into action. 

Similarly, The United Way of Central NB made changes to their data standards after the federal government’s emergency COVID-19 funding was implemented. Seeing the federal data standards set new parameters for the right kind of questions to ask in order to compare with national data, as well as data being collected by the Fredericton Community Foundation. 

Data standards simply meant having agreed upon categories of focus for projects and outputs, and standardized demographic definitions and categories. This created comparable project impact across organizations and at a national level, through the lens of food security, for example, age breakdown, or underrepresented and vulnerable groups. 

Accessible reporting on community needs & impact: 
Collaboration between funding organizations:
Community wide impact: 

By implementing these standards for the COVID-19 Emergency Community Support Fund applications, the United Way of Central NB was able to run multiple reports illustrating what was being done in the community, what underrepresented and vulnerable groups were being serviced, and how much support each group was receiving. This was not possible in the past because it would have required combing through the narrative aspects of the applications, which was very time intensive. 

  The process of data standardization has ensured that both funding organizations are collaboratively funding local non-profit organizations and projects that will generate the most community impact. This is valuable to both organizations because they can avoid any possible overlap in the provision of resources and expand their impact to the people and places that need it most.

In previous years, the Fredericton Community Foundation and United Way of Central NB would compile their data for a joint year end community impact report. However, because the funding organizations were collecting different data points, this reporting process was not sustainable. By standardizing the demographics data requirements and categories for underrepresented and groups made to be vulnerable that the funded projects address, larger community impact measurement is possible. 

Feedback from the Non-Profit Community 

By standardizing their data requirements, the Fredericton Community Foundation and United Way of Central NB have been able to create a funding application that requires similar information, which is more accessible to non-profits receiving and applying for funding from both organizations by not having differing application and reporting requirements for the same work. 

To ensure that these new data standardization requirements are being effectively communicated to the non-profits, application guides have been created. The guides are available on the organizations’ website and allows agencies to view a full copy of the application before entering the portal. Most importantly, these guides explain why the funding organizations have specific data requirements and how they have changed, and provide helpful tips for differentiating between outputs (standardized between funding bodies and federal measurements) and outcomes (still narrative based). 

Fredericton Community Foundation 
United Way of Central NB

Non-profits have communicated the need to modify application requirements to reflect how much data is required based on resources provided. For example, an applicant requesting $5,000 in funding would have fewer data parameters to collect and report on than an applicant requesting $100,000. This would ensure that adequate resources are provided for the additional work required to meet data management requirements, thereby maximizing community impact without overburdening non-profits with excessive data requirements and allowing them to still prioritize the community services that they provide every day. 

Non-profits have expressed positive feedback since standardizing their data collection measures, requiring non-profit agencies to simply check the boxes of their outputs for their funding applications. They have since received feedback that their applications are much easier to fill out and organizations are shocked at how simple the data collection process is. They have also found success in altering their applications slightly to meet the capacity needs of varying communities. 


Thorlby, R., Jorgensen, S., Siegel, B. & Ayanian, J. (2011). How healthcare organizations are using data on patients’ race and ethnicity to improve quality of care. The Milbank Quarterly. Vol. 89, Iss. 2. 226-255.  

Painting by numbers: adding quantitative data to illustrate the scale of potential impact shared in stories.

Introducing Wil-Doo Cycle

Wil-Doo Cycle provides cycling programs to youth living in a neighbourhood with a high density of families living below the poverty line and refugees, promoting social inclusion and accessibility. It is a small non-profit that is run by one dedicated Executive Director, but has a large impact on the community that it serves.

Storytelling and word of mouth have taken their programming to where it is today, which is kids running down the street when they see the ED driving in, excited to jump on a bike to learn and play together. However, funding bodies are requiring non-profits more and more to explain their impact in relation to larger social issues and how their work in the community moves the needle forward.


When working with our data collaboration research team, the primary challenge that Wil-Doo Cycle faced was internal capacity and limitations around data use in general because of the size of their organization. 

The journey from idea to service delivery typically begins with funding applications for our non-profits. This is when new programs are scoped out and planned according to the challenge being addressed and in alignment with funding application requirements. Non-profits are asked why this type of program or service is needed, what impact that these programs will have on the community, and the demographics of who will be impacted. 


The NPO Data Collaboration team worked with Wil-Doo Cycle to identify data within the Community Prosperity Hub to strengthen their funding application for a new youth cycling program that would promote the social inclusion of predominantly refugee youth living in the circumstance of poverty within our community. 

Our research team met with Wil-Doo Cycle to learn about the new youth cycling program and then had a follow up meeting to present the data from the Community Prosperity Hub that could support this application. 

We were able to provide demographic information of the neighbourhood surrounding the cycling program’s meet up location, outlining how many refugee families and youth populate that area, as well as the percentage of households living below the poverty line defined by the Market Basket Measure. 

Data Use 

This open source demographic data was used to enhance the story and understand the given problem that Wil-Doo Cycle addresses with their programming. By integrating concrete numbers and demographic information about who their cycling programs impact within a 5 minute, 10 minute, and 15 minute walking radius of their meeting location, the application was better able to establish that this neighbourhood has a high rate of poverty and refugee density and advocate for change through the continued development of cycling programs that promote the social inclusion of predominantly refugee youth living in the circumstance of poverty. 


The Executive Director shared with our team that they would have most likely made educated guesses based on experience for the required data of this funding application, and that having this data from the Community Prosperity Hub reiterated the importance of their work in the community that is otherwise communicated anecdotally.