A Community Resource to Strengthen Buffalo Niagara’s Safety Net

Numbers in Need is an online resource to support community leaders, human service providers, the foundation community, and others in understanding the most pressing needs relating to poverty and economic vulnerability in the Buffalo Niagara Region. Numbers in Needs focuses on 12 representative urban, suburban and rural communities. These 12 communities are home to over half of those in the region who live in or near poverty. Data, information and research findings in these 12 communities offer insights and lessons for all communities in the region and beyond.

Numbers in Need offers community-level data for 12 Communities and snapshot reports that identify people and places in need and factors that matter such as access to jobs, educational attainment, household income, affordable housing, and safe neighborhoods. A Regional Picture offers a benchmark for the 12 communities and an analysis of regional performance and trends. Reports with insights from residents and providers share the perspectives of vulnerable populations who live in the community and the service providers who work there. Numbers in Need features an interactive mapping tool that identifies Providers in the 12 communities and looks at where these providers are located relative to at-risk populations. Strategies & Models offer ideas, actions and examples for spurring thought, conversation, and activity toward a stronger safety net of human services. This recorded website presentation offers an overview of what’s available on the Numbers In Need website.

Two Teams

Numbers in Need culminates months of research led by the University at Buffalo Regional Institute working in partnership with the Mobile Safety-Net Team.

The Mobile Safety-Net Team is an initiative of The John R. Oishei Foundation formed in 2009 as a local response to the nation’s economic downturn. The team uses research-informed practices to support and cultivate collaborations to strengthen under-resourced communities. They envision a thriving region that has the necessary resources to address community needs.

The University at Buffalo Regional Institute is a major research center within the UB School of Architecture and Planning. UBRI partners with foundations, local governments, not for profits, and others to guide informed decision making and to positively impact communities. UBRI focuses on topics such as economic development, workforce development, community revitalization, economic security, transportation and more.

About the Research and Data

  • Numbers in Need is engaging thousands of residents and community service providers across the Buffalo Niagara Region. Resident are completing surveys about household needs, finances, urgent concerns, gaps in coverage, access barriers, and program utilization. Residents are also participating in small group conversations and interviews to share personal stories and offer perspectives on positive trends and persistent challenges. Learn more about insights from residents in Reports for 12 communities in Buffalo Niagara.

  • Conversations are also being held with community providers to understand areas of concern, barriers to reaching residents, recent successes and their ideas for strengthening the landscape of services. Many providers also completed a survey collecting updated agency information. Insights from providers can be found in Reports for 12 communities.

  • Data from diverse sources such as the US Census American Community Survey, NYS Department of Education, and Reference USA Business Database are used for the snapshots of the 12 Communities and the analysis of the Regional Picture that will be tracked annually.

The History of Numbers in Need

Numbers in Need grew out of 12 community reports produced between 2012 and 2014 through a research partnership between The John R. Oishei Foundation’s Mobile Safety-Net Team and the University at Buffalo Regional Institute. These earlier reports assisted communities in strengthening the safety-net of services for individuals who are economically vulnerable or in poverty.

A survey of agency providers and community leaders conducted in 2017 by The John R. Oishei Foundation revealed that community reports were being used by service providers and coalitions in a variety of ways. The large majority described using reports for data and information about their community, including an understanding of community strengths, assets, gaps and challenges. Nearly half reported using the community reports for collaboration and partnership building. A third or more were using the information for grant writing, fundraising and advocacy. Numbers in Need directly responds to feedback from providers who said that more frequent data updates and interactive online features would make community reports more valuable to them.

History of Mobile Safety-Net Team

Numbers in Need also amplifies the work the Mobile Safety-Net Team has been doing in the community for years. The Mobile Safety Net Team spurred the creation of several stakeholder coalitions that are tackling community challenges and creating stronger communities through partnerships and shared priorities.

Over 200 human service providers and leaders use Numbers in Need to find information, build partnerships, pursue funding and advocate for their community.

Tell us how you’re using Numbers in Need

“This data has been instrumental in finding what our community looks like and what obstacles we need to tackle to move ahead.”

“I have repeatedly and often share this data with colleagues and community members.”