With support from donors and partners, CJP has mobilized more than $10 million for our community—an effort reflected in CJP’s new COVID-19 Response Dashboard. Samantha Katzen and Shani Wilkes, two of CJP’s data experts, explain why they tracked, measured, and reported on the impact these resources made.
Can you explain what the COVID-19 Response Dashboard is?
Samantha: Sure. The dashboard is a visual way to understand what resources CJP mobilized during this crisis so far, our timeline, the priorities we focused on, and the community needs we addressed.
Why is CJP focusing on data?
Shani: Data helps us see trends, to understand where needs and opportunities are, and to tell the story of the continual impact of our investments of time and resources. One of the best ways we can earn and gain the trust of our community is to be transparent about where these dollars are coming from, how we’re spending them, and why. Data can give us a clear understanding of what has happened, but this information can also potentially give us a better view of the future and help us identify needs as they begin to emerge.
What technology is enabling CJP to do this?
Samantha: In recent years, CJP decided to make a strategic investment in data and technology to help us better serve our partners and our community, and to help us communicate needs, opportunities, and impact. We’ve created something we call the Knowledge Hub Initiative, where we’re combining data from a variety of systems and external sources. This provides critical infrastructure, tools, and accessibility to make a fundamental shift in how we use data. To build the dashboard, we used PowerBI, an analytics tool that uses data to create interactive visualizations and share them with the community.
What are some of the stories you see in the data?
Shani: The data shows that CJP is well positioned to respond to crisis. We had $6.26 million that we were able to release early to our partner organizations so that they had funds they needed to pivot their programming and address needs that changed overnight.
Samantha: In many ways, this feels like an unprecedented situation but it’s actually the second global pandemic CJP has faced in our 125-year history. When I look at this dashboard, I see the story of an organization that’s seasoned by experience to support both vulnerable communities and the community at large, no matter what circumstances we face.
Shani: Our Jewish community is generous beyond compare. At a time of great uncertainty, people made giving to CJP’s Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund a priority.
Samantha: More than 1,500 donors contributed $4.26 million to the Fund! To me, that shows how much they care, and how much they trust CJP.
Beyond the numbers, what other ways did you see CJP’s impact during the pandemic?
Shani: CJP partnered with JCC Greater Boston to create the Bost(ON) Summer C.A.R.E. Crate as a “summer in a box” for kids and families who found themselves without their typical camp activities. We provided 500 boxes to the community. My own daughters received a crate and together we made mosaics and jump ropes—it truly brightened our summer days.
Samantha: We also made technology grants to synagogues to support virtual High Holiday activities. For me, the High Holidays are about the sights and sounds of being together in the synagogue—I wasn’t sure what it would be like participating from home. But with the right technology in place, it was a moving experience that connected me to my temple community. I’m proud that CJP helped make that possible for so many congregations.
Are there other resources you recommend for people who want to learn more?
Samantha: In addition to checking out the COVID-19 Response Dashboard, we also have a new section of CJP’s website that showcases the impact of our collective efforts and partnerships, with highlights that are specific to our COVID-19 response.
Shani: We’ve been telling the stories behind the numbers ever since the pandemic started with highlights featured on JewishBoston.com and social media with the hashtags #CJPFeelGoodNews and #TogetherInCommunity. In the midst of all the fear and bad news, we’re humbled to see how many people are pulling together to make a difference.