Q&A with Ariela Friedman, Grouptrail’s Director of Strategy for Education and Community Development
You’ve worked in youth services and education for 13 years — how did you decide to join Grouptrail?
My passion for working with young people developed out of a great belief in the strength, ingenuity, and power of youth. This passion took me from working at one of the coolest youth organizations in the country - The Door - to managing executive-level partnerships between the largest K-12 and urban university systems in the country, and then to CARA where I trained high school and college students to do professional-level college counseling. Throughout the years, I’ve had various relationships to data, from entering it into three different databases, to managing and training staff with those responsibilities, to using existing citywide data to identify indicators of college success. And, finally, to developing Enroll - a tool that could make all of the above easier, and help contribute to our understanding about how youth succeed in college.
I developed Enroll in partnership with Grouptrail and when I learned that Grouptrail was interested in helping more schools and non-profits establish systems that could improve programing and even create reports that could be used for advocacy, I was in!
What trends have you seen in the field related to data?
Non-profits and schools continue to become more sophisticated in how they gather and interpret data, use it to demonstrate impact, and create more targeted interventions. As research develops and best practices are shared, organizations and schools are given more ideas about what milestones and benchmarks participants should meet, and are developing more efficient systems for tracking those key metrics. As organizations and government agencies continue the current trend of sharing data, program participants and students will continue to benefit from the more complex and predictive models for how interventions impact people’s life outcomes.
How do you see the role of technology and Grouptrail?
Participant-level data is the foundation for identifying trends that allow us to show impact and create change within our own organizations and larger systems. This means that non-profits and schools need a database that is easy to develop on a budget, requires as little time as possible from direct service staff, and can answer questions about participants for all staff. I believe that Grouptrail’s platform meets these objectives - saving organizations thousands of dollars a year and putting data back into the hands of program staff.
What is it like to work with you?
There are two sides to this coin. The first - I love to get excited about what I’m doing!!!!! And the other side - I’m extremely organized and outcomes-focused. This means that working with me is a combination of “Yay, let’s have fun”, and “Here are our deliverables from last week, our timeline moving forward, and our next steps. Keep up!”
Outside of data, what interests you?
There is quite a range, here are my top three:
- Home improvement projects: Do you have a wall you would like rip out and rebuild? Tell me all about it!
- Creating natural skin and hair care products: If it’s in the kitchen I’ve probably used it on my skin or hair.
- Race, Class and LGBTQIA Justice: Let me know what is happening in your city!