What do Spring, Xcalibur, Data Dashboards, and Your Car’s Check Engine Light Have in Common?

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This week marks the first week of Spring, and the buzz of renewal is in the air. Spring is the official name of the season, but GEAR UP members may call this time of year’ APR season.’ It also indicates a renewal, moving from the close examination of last year’s grant performance and looking toward future programming and your notice of continuation funding. Others in the GEAR UP community (particularly data enthusiasts) may call this season ‘March Madness’ and spend countless hours reviewing game odds to develop the perfect bracket. Each NCCA basketball tournament indicates a chance to establish a better bracket than the year before by examining historical successes and challenges. Similar practices occur with GEAR UP grants all year, especially during APR season.

 Regardless of what this season is called, Spring symbolizes a period where we reflect on the old and use that information to develop the new. Spring is when plants and animals revive and reinvigorate after the colder winter months. The Xcalibur Evaluation Team is using the Spring season to refresh some of our methods to provide data back to clients. 

 Xcalibur is committed to providing grants with relevant and timely information that is user-friendly and promotes data-driven decisions. Among our evaluation clients, we are increasingly creating and using data dashboards to monitor and showcase the performance of projects. The data dashboards connect different metrics and sources to display pertinent and connected information in user-friendly charts and graphs. Think of it this way – the term ‘dashboard’ originates from your car’s dashboard, where the driver sees and takes in important information at a glance to ensure the car is performing as expected. Do you rely on your vehicle’s tire pressure or fuel tank low indicators?

When appropriately designed and executed, dashboards support effective reporting that allows the client to filter data fields to discover information related to unique subgroups. The filtering functions of the dashboards enable users to drill down and view the data that interests the user most, while the data charts update to only display the data that meet the chosen characteristics. Xcalibur can take this concept when applicable and provide grants with visual indicators similar to a check engine light that will help them know when a potential problem needs attention.