HIV service organizations spend a fair amount of time securing funding necessary to maintain or expand programming. Funding often comes in the form of grants. Research for grant applications can be a daunting task and most funders require a detailed description of the population served. Knowing where to find this information makes providing a community profile possible. Having access to an affordable and easy to use tool greatly reduces the complexity of doing so. This article highlights just such a tool.
Creating the Community Profile: A common requirement for grant applications is the community profile. A community profile can be used to describe the population of an organization’s service area, or to identify areas with high concentrations of vulnerable residents such as those living in poverty. A free and easy to use online resource for this purpose is Community Commons.
Community Commons is a collaboration of non-profit organizations that developed an online tool in response to IRS requirements outlined in the Affordable Care Act. This tool is a data warehouse (and much more) that allows users to easily create very detailed community profiles for areas as small as the census tract level. To create your community profile, visit Community Commons’ Maps & Data page. From this page, you can browse available maps and reports or create one of your own. Two of my favorite options are located under the section titled ‘Build a Report’.
A Quick Example: For a quick example of what you can do with Community Commons, follow these instructions:
- Visit communitycommons.org/maps-data/
- Select Community Health Needs Assessment
- Select Run an Indicator Report (Note: Creating an account is necessary but free)
- Select Indiana, then Marion County, from the drop-down menus
- Select View Report
After viewing the basic report, scroll down to the lower-right corner of the page where you can download the report as-is or you can choose to customize the report with indicators grouped under the categories:
- Social & economic factors
- Physical environment
- Health behaviors
- Clinical care
- Health outcomes
I chose to examine economic factors and selected the ‘Children Eligible for Free Lunch’ option. I was provided with much data on the topic, including this graph of eligibility during the 2009-10 through 2013-14 academic years that contrasts Marion County with Indiana and the U.S.
Be sure to check out the ‘Identify Vulnerable Populations’ tool as well. The tool opens with poverty and education indicators; however, you can add other indicators from a large menu of options. Move the sliders to adjust the indicator thresholds in use. You can also overlay community health clinics, hospitals, geographical boundaries, and more with the check of a box.
The Marion County Public Health Department’s Ryan White HIV Services Program oversees Ryan White Part A, C, and Minority AIDS Initiative grants in the Indianapolis-Carmel Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). These programs serve the needs of persons newly infected or living with HIV and out of care and/or uninsured or medically underserved.
View the full article in Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center Indiana Newsletter, February 2016(79).