Community Foundation promotes new website for data on Delaware

The CenDel Foundation president Kathleen Hawkins welcomes everyone in attendance to the second floor parish hall of Christ Episcopal Church for a special Potter Trust Forum open to all non-profits in Kent County. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

The CenDel Foundation president Kathleen Hawkins welcomes everyone in attendance to the second floor parish hall of Christ Episcopal Church for a special Potter Trust Forum open to all non-profits in Kent County. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Ever wondered how many children in Dover have just one parent? The sheer prevalence may be a shock.

That fact, one of a myriad of census-related statistics available online, can be hard to track down, but now, much of it can be found collected in one place, thanks to the Delaware Community Foundation.

Delaware Community Foundation President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay (Submitted photo/Delaware Community Foundation)

Delaware Community Foundation President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay (Submitted photo/Delaware Community Foundation)

The nonprofit launched a website containing a variety of data on Delaware, including demographics, income and education. That information can be used for a wide range of purposes, be it research projects, personal curiosity or charitable efforts.

“Our hope is that it then inspires people to think about how they do their philanthropy and where they target their funds, toward needs, toward successes, whatever,” foundation President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay said.

The organization, one of more than 700 community foundations across the country, sponsors a variety of different funds, including the CenDel Foundation, the Fund for Women and the Beau Biden Foundation.

Those groups help communities by providing scholarships and grants, supporting “pretty much any initiative in the state in pretty much any way you can imagine one way or the other,” Mr. Comstock-Gay said.

Large and well-known in Delaware circles, the Community Foundation helps donors figure out the best way to make an impact. Mr. Comstock-Gay described it as an “umbrella,” covering many different funds.

The website was launched in October and touted by officials at the time.

“By undertaking this project, driven by data and research, the Delaware Community Foundation will help provide an objective view of our challenges and contribute to implementing solutions,” Gov. Jack Markell said in a statement.

Working with the Center for Governmental Research, a New York nonprofit, the foundation collects data from an array of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the University of Delaware and the First State’s counties.

Mr. Comstock-Gay stressed that while a considerable amount of information is available on the site, the portal should not be seen as the ending point. DelawareFocus contains “high-level data” that can be further broken down at the origin source, be it the Delaware Elections Department or one of the many spinoff Web pages that break down census information.

Wednesday, the CenDel Foundation held an event designed in part to promote the website for nonprofits. The forum also served to allow local charity organizations to get in touch with one another and coordinate their efforts.

“It was a little bit of a surprise to me that these nonprofits all working in the same general area really didn’t know each other,” CenDel President Kathleen Hawkins said.

The groups were able to use the event, the fourth such one hosted by the foundation, to speak with one another and determine what areas need additional coverage and what they can do together. Thirty-five people attended, Ms. Hawkins said.

It was sponsored by the Potter Trust Forum, a Kent-specific group overseen by the CenDel and Delaware Community Foundation. While the Potter Trust focuses on health and human services, Wednesday’s gathering was open to all local nonprofits.

DelawareFocus can help nonprofits not only in finding data that shows what demographics or areas may be lacking but also in tailoring grant applications.

The information shows that income inequality is less severe in Delaware than in the United States at large but is worse in Dover and Wilmington, that the state’s population is also more obese than the nation and that more than a third of Kent County residents speak a foreign language at home.

These details can help nonprofits determine who and what to target and how to do so effectively.

Like Mr. Comstock-Gay, Ms. Hawkins emphasized the statistics provided by the website can be further broken down. Furthermore, its data is regularly checked and updated to ensure it is reliable, she said.

“The more people get into seeing what that database can do, the more valuable it is,” she said.

The Delaware Community Foundation invites the public to weigh in on the site and recommend ways to improve it.

And by the way, the answers to the initial question: From 2010 to 2014, 59 percent of Dover families with children were single-parent families, a number that, distressingly, is well above the national (35 percent), state (38 percent) and county (40 percent) figures.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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