Converse University’s Quantitative Consulting class and the Upstate Family Resource Center (UFRC), a non-profit organization with the vision of being the community leader in strengthening families, embarked on a mutually beneficial partnership this spring.
The course, made possible by a grant from Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences (PIC Math), allowed students to participate in meaningful work in the classroom, while also providing data-driven solutions for UFRC’s charitable institution.
“One of the primary benefits to partnering with organizations like the Upstate Family Resource Center, is that it bridges the gap between classroom learning and real-world application,” said Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Data Science, Dr. Amanda Mangum. “Students get the experience of using raw data and gain a better understanding of how their work can be utilized to impact a corporation or even a community.”
The students were divided into two separate groups. They were each given the same two years’ worth of data from CharityTracker and the overarching project goals. The teams were also asked to keep UFRC’s mission of “achieving a healthier and more prosperous community by providing educational opportunities, engaging activities and support services to help families thrive” at the center of their work.
“Our collaboration with Converse through the PIC Math project has been priceless.”UFRC Executive Director Kelley Ezell
“Our collaboration with Converse through the PIC Math project has been priceless,” said UFRC Executive Director Kelley Ezell. “While data becomes increasingly important to continuous improvement and funding opportunities, few non-profits have the resources to employee data experts to focus thought and structure to data gathering and analysis.”
Over the course of several weeks, students analyzed the data and by the end of the semester, the cohorts presented their findings, to include any recommendations, to the UFRC Board of Directors and its leadership team.
“This project not only helped us to see our work more clearly, but it directed our thinking around the significance of strategically planning our data collection up front,” said Ezell. “Dr. Mangum and her students were thoughtful as they worked through this tedious process with us. Their professionalism was impressive when delivering the finished product to our staff and board.”
“Converse’s Data Science minor prepares students to enter a modern workforce that is increasingly data-driven.”
Ezell looks forward to continuing the collaboration with Converse this fall in an effort to learn more about the service and impact that UFRC has on the community.
Data science is a growing discipline. Employers in a variety of fields are actively looking for people with data science and analytical skills to transform consumer data into strategic decisions and drive decision-making. Converse University’s Data Science minor prepares students to enter a modern workforce that is increasingly data-driven.
Mathematics and German Studies double major Angela Brobson ’23 (Nisbet Honors), a participant in Dr. Mangum’s quantitative consulting class, wasn’t confident that pursuing her passion for math would be a wise move professionally.
“I loved math in high school but felt it would be very boring as an occupation,” Brobson explained. I wasn’t sure how math could be applied to a job. This class showed me the wide range of opportunities within the field and how math can be merged with other interests to create a dynamic career.”