Our Data & Measurement Approach at Lumina Foundation

Lumina uses a leadership model of philanthropy to guide our work. The model is characterized by three main attributes that are critical for organizational effectiveness: focus, flexibility, and fortitude. Because we are intently focused on one goal, and because we consistently measure progress toward that goal, we often reassess our strategies and tactics. This means we regularly work to refine our approach and redirect our work based on the data at hand.

This is why we exist. From a data and measurement perspective our strategic vision is a new data framework that validates, honors, and reflects the lived experiences of today’s students pursuing tomorrow’s credentials.

Tactically, data and measurement efforts seek to inform the field, the foundation’s strategic direction, and our own grantmaking in ways that can drive greater impact through our investments and ultimately drive toward our goal of ensuring that more adults earning quality post-high school credentials.

Strategic Focus Areas

Our ambitious agenda is more than an investment strategy. It includes, in meaningful and empowering ways, every person we engage no matter position or title to lead a movement. To that end we focus our efforts in two focus areas: 1. Aligning data systems, and 2. Understanding perceptions, behavior, and impact; and

Focus Area 1: Aligning Data Systems

Siloed and archaic data and information structures fail to reflect the lived experiences of today’s students on a path to earning tomorrow’s credentials.

We are not the first to make this observation. Prior efforts to increase the value of existing databases have come in the form of 1) building a new database from scratch, 2) attempting to add new questions to an existing data collection, or 3) supporting the lengthy negotiation of data-sharing agreements. Given the time and resources available, the approach we plan to take is to leverage existing data collections and processes to improve the information available to the field.

Focus Area 2:  Understanding Perceptions, Behaviors and Impact

Lumina’s focus on attainment continues to guide our efforts. Yet, as we near the goal and begin to think forward, we need to best understand why people feel the way they do and the perceptions behind the positions they take.

We will expand our polling and qualitative data with specific populations in real time to identify issues of critical importance to individuals. In addition, over the next two years, Lumina’s vision beyond 2025 will take shape in more concrete ways. Collectively this work will spur forward-thinking innovations that expand our historical approach to articulating the value of education beyond the high school.

Purposeful Practice

First, we provide fundamental knowledge for the foundation, which includes overseeing the development and data accuracy for A Stronger Nation as well as data management, cleaning, and extraction of information contained within Lumina’s platforms.

Second, we remain committed to diversifying the field with analysts and scholars of color and gender identities.

Third, we recognize that our support for grantees and contractors doesn’t end with the final signature but includes continual non-monetary support.